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Jilin to Build Port on Songhua River
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Jilin City in northeast China's Jilin Province plans to invest 60 million yuan (US$7.4 million) to build a comprehensive river port, sources with Jilin Maritime Safety Authority said yesterday.

Zhai Lin, vice-president of the authority, told China Daily in an interview that the completion of the Jilin port, located on the Songhua River, would connect all the waterways of northeast China.

The new port, which has an annual throughput of 2 million tons, will be able to handle ships from Russia when it is finished.

As one of the national programs for revitalizing the old industrial base of Northeast China, the port was put on the agenda at end of 2003.

"The plan is to break ground at the beginning of 2007 and construction will be finished in two phases. The first phase will be completed in one year," Zhai said.

The capacity would then expand with increasing demand during the second phase, he added.

Investment will come from the municipal government and businesses.

So far several private enterprises and investment companies have shown serious interest in the project, Zhai said.

According to official statistics, most goods in the city are transported by rail, but this can now only meet one-third of demand.

Since the price of water transport is much lower than rail or road transportation, the new port is expected to be an important transport channel for agricultural products such as soybean and corn.

"The new port will play an important role in the economic growth of Jilin and its surrounding areas," said Zhai.

About 50 years ago, operation of the old Jilin port was suspended, as the Songhua River was too shallow for ships to enter.

However, in 2004 a three-year project began to improve the waterway.

The minimum width of the waterway will be over 50 meters, while the minimum depth is 1.6 meters.

Despite temperatures dropping to as low as 25 C below zero in winter, the river never fully freezes up.

(China Daily June 1, 2006)

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