Danish-funded ferries seaworthy in October

The Vietnam Ship Building Industry Corporation (Vinashin) is building three ferries with Danish non-refundable aids for river traffic in the Mekong Delta

Three new ferries built with funding from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) are due to begin service this October, reported VietNamNet news agency.

Each of the ferries will be capable of carrying 250 passengers and 20 automobiles.

Danida's involvement in the Mekong Delta Ferry Project, which carries a price tag of DKK 7.2 million, started in 1996, initially supporting a World Bank project. In phase I of the project, which wrapped up in 1998, funds were allocated to rehabilitate 10 existing ferries in the southern Vietnam region interlaced with rivers. Construction of two new 200-ton ferries in local shipyards with the assistance of Danish consultants and technical advisers was also a part of phase one.

The project was so successful that Danida decided to implement a phase II, earmarking DKK 150 million to a five-year support programme aimed at reforming management strategies, and monitoring capacity expansion of the ferry sector in the Mekong Delta, according to a press release from the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry.

A revolving fund, known as the Ferry Fund, for financing new ferries and ferry stations with main capital provided through the project is currently in operation. Danida estimates that the fund will need a boost in further capital in upcoming months.

A number of Danish companies specialising in the shipping industry including Aalborg Industries, Lyngsø Marine, and MAN B&W have been active in the project targeting one of the most important growth sectors in Vietnam.

The input of new equipment has contributed to annual 12 percent growth along the Mekong Delta, reported Danida.

To date, a total of 14 new ferries and a number of ferry stations have been constructed through the ongoing project.

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