Yangtze Navigation to Be Improved

China plans to invest 16 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) over the next 17 years to improve navigation conditions on the main trunk of the Yangtze River, its biggest waterway. Extensive dredging will be done and new navigation facilities built, said officials in Wuhan City Wednesday.

An official in charge of the Yangtze Navigation Channel Bureau said the massive clearing will be the largest ever. Navigation facilities and equipment such as signs, lights and ports, will be upgraded or built in phases.

Projects will involve 2,838 kilometers in navigation channels from the port of Shuifu, in southwest China's Yunnan Province, to the mouth of the Yangtze near Shanghai.

The 6,300-kilometer-long Yangtze River--China's longest--accounts for 40 percent of the country's river traffic.

At least 30 major shallow areas in the waterway will be dredged of silt and sunken boats salvaged. At present, ships are unable to travel through the shallows during the dry season and some even run aground.

China invested less than 3 billion yuan (nearly US$400 million) in improving the navigation channel in the Yangtze River during 1949 and 2000.

(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2004)