A pier being built by Taiwan on Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島), the largest of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) in a disputed South China Sea region, is likely to be completed before the scheduled date late next year, a source said.
According to the source, production of the 11 caissons needed for the project is progressing faster than expected.
As a result, the caissons — with a total weight of 30,000 tonnes — will be shipped to Taiping Island in November, seven months ahead of schedule, the source said, adding that the ship carrying the goods will be escorted by several military frigates to protect it.
When the project is completed, the pier will be able to accommodate 3,000-tonne naval frigates and coast guard cutters.
In addition to a 320m pier, the project includes a 210m access road, navigation guidance and other auxiliary facilities, according to the Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation.
At present, big ships have to drop anchor far from shore and rely on smaller vessels for loading and unloading, but the problem will be solved with the completion of the project, which also involves dredging the harbor to increase its depth to 14m, the bureau said.
In addition, work is being carried out on a 1,300m runway to improve rainwater drainage.
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