Keelung's dominance as the gateway for Taiwanese exports and foreign imports in the north of the country is set to be challenged by the Port of Taipei, which is undergoing a make-over to become an international container terminal that will double the north's cargo capacity.
The Taipei port runs along the south bank of the Tamsui River between Pali and Linkou townships. The port was officially upgraded last week to become Taiwan's seventh international port, joining Keelung, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien, as well as the auxiliary ports of Suao in Ilan County and Anping in Tainan City.
While the Executive Yuan had nominally agreed to make Taipei Port an international auxiliary port of Keelung port in 1997, the Cabinet had held back on officially upgrading the port until breakwaters had been completed and the facilities had been inspected to confirm they met international standards at the end of last year.
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES
Construction on the port began in 1993 and limited operations began in July 1997.
Until last year, the port's wharfs were only intended to accommodate bulk cargo which was not transported in containers.
The port has three bulk cargo wharfs, with two sandstone wharfs and one oil wharf. Another six bulk cargo wharfs are set to go into operation in June.
In August 1993, the port signed a contract to significantly increase the capabilities of its facilities. Shipping giants Evergreen Marine, Yangming Marine and Wan Hai Lines together formed a venture to invest in the construction of seven container terminals, a warehouse and shore protection work.
The seven container terminals would allow ocean container vessels to discharge and load goods in containers, standard metal transport boxes usually measuring 20 feet in length. Cargo is usually measured in 20-foot equivalent units (TEU). The container terminals will be equipped with facilities such as cranes to accommodate the container vessels.
According to the contract, the first container terminal will be ready for operation by 2008 and the other six by 2014 at the latest.
Plans for Taipei port will have a significant effect on Keelung port, which lies just 63km away and is the main port servicing northern Taiwan.
"In the past, about 1 million to 1.4 million TEUs of cargo with the final destination of northern Tai-wan were unloaded at Kaohsiung port because Keelung Port was unable to accommodate all the traffic," said a Taipei port official, who would only identify himself by his surname, Wei.
Wei estimated that each new container terminal at Taipei port would be able to accommodate at least 300,000 TEUs of cargo a year.
He pointed out that upon completion of all seven container terminals, Taipei port would be able to accommodate significantly more than the 1.4 million TEUs of north-bound cargo that were currently being shipped through Kaohsiung port.
Given Taipei port's new facilities, it could possibly take over some of the 1.9 million TEUs now shipped through Keelung.
By 2014, Taipei port expects to handle upwards of 2 million TEUs.
"While Taipei port's cargo traffic last year measured around 5.4 million tonnes of bulk cargo, we expect to hit 10 million tonnes with the new container terminal in 2008," Wei said.
Keelung Harbor Bureau director Wang Chung-hsiung (
"In the future, Taipei port will most likely service larger vessels from the US or Europe while Keelung port will service smaller vessels from countries closer to Taiwan," Wang said.
However, the Keelung Harbor Bureau said that already the amount of sandstone shipped through Kee-lung has declined since Taipei port began servicing vessels carrying sandstone.
Taipei port's upgrade to international status would enable shipping companies to berth and discharge cargo at Taipei port directly, bypassing previous applications at the Keelung Port administration.
"It's hard to predict how the port's traffic will be affected because the traffic each port receives will be mostly up to the shipping companies to decide. It will depend on which companies each port can attract," Wang said.
Wei said that Taipei port had many advantages over Keelung's.
"Taipei is a metropolitan city and is the location of a large number of businesses, so most cargo is bound for the city," Wei said.
"Taipei port is strategically located to allow traders to bypass land shipping because it is so close to the city," Wei said.
In addition, the port also has aspirations as a tourism center.
Taipei port director Wu Fu-hsiung (
"We hope to set up a tourism area. "People would be able to experience berthing at the port and visit the port to see the port's operations," Wu said.
Wu joked that given the amount of construction at the port, tourism projects probably would not materialize until after 2011.
The coast guard on Friday took a Chinese fishing boat and the 17 people on board into custody, after it rammed into a patrol boat while attempting to flee. A 100-tonne coast guard vessel at about 8am discovered a Chinese fishing boat illegally operating in waters about 11 nautical miles (20.4km) northwest of Hsinchu, the Hsinchu offshore flotilla of the Coast Guard Administration said. The crew refused to allow law enforcement to board the ship and attempted to flee, it added. The coast guard vessel and another ship chased the fishing boat for about a half hour, during which time the Chinese boat
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Beijing was trying to “annex” Taiwan, while China said its recent series of drills near Taiwan are aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces. The Ministry of National Defense earlier this month said that it had observed dozens of Chinese fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby. The increased frequency of China’s military activities has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said last week. Asked about the spurt
China’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong has asked foreign consulates in Hong Kong to submit details of their local staff, which is more proof that the “one country, two systems” model no longer exists, a Taiwanese academic said. The office sent letters dated Monday last week to consulates in the territory, giving them one month to submit the information it requires. The move followed Beijing’s attempt to obtain floor plans for all properties used by foreign missions in Hong Kong last year, which raised concerns among diplomats that the information could be used for
‘ABNORMITY’: News of the military exercises on the coast of the Chinese province facing Taiwan were made public by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday Taiwan’s military yesterday said it has detected the Chinese military initiating a round of exercises at a bay area in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan, since early yesterday morning and it has been closely monitoring the drills. The exercises being conducted at Fujian’s Dacheng Bay featured an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) warplanes, warships and ground troops, the Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement. The ministry did not disclose what kind of military exercises are being conducted there and for how long they would be happening, but it did say that it has been closely watching