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Yangshan, China’s Deepwater Exploration Harbour



A view of Yangshan Deepwater Port, Shanghai

…A serene view of windmills in water, iron and concrete bridge and ghost port

 In the construction of Sea Ports, China is recognised. Its Shanghai Port ranking one of the largest globally. Yangshan Port, which is a part of Shanghai Port has its own story to tell as it quietly contributes to China’s economy. Its deepwater exploration leaves a lot more to be said about its remarkable windmills in water, mysterious ghost port and breathtaking Donghai Bridge. BUKOLA OGUNSINA writes…

In Shanghai, northeast of Hangzhou Bay, Qiqu Archipelago waters, the bus moved along the Donghai Bridge. The now famous bridge runs a steady length of 32 kilometres through the Pacific Ocean and to Yangshan Deepwater Exploration, an Island made up of five remarkable areas.

Even more remarkable are the windmills on either side of the cross sea bridge, wheels of blades deftly rolling, its stem deeply rooted in the water, generating energy. From information gathered, the entire port bears a distance of an estimated 72 km from famous Yangtze river estuary, it has Beilun port of Ningbo in the south, and an international shipping line that’s about 104 km distance in the east.

The director of the Port, Mr Hu Wei said emotively through an interpreter, “The Yangshan port is of high quality standard design. It is a high level project of China,” from his proud remarks it is easy to see why.

Donghai Bridge itself is a structure that has been brought about through meticulous deliberations, to include the use of quality materials and tools that have given it a life span of a hundred years. Its speed design is 80km/h, its sturdiness could leave anyone feeling mind boggled about whether or not they were driving on the Pacific Ocean! However the somewhat raging waters on either side of the bridge halts the confusion, bringing certainty, and answers the question, yes indeed it runs through the Pacific Ocean.

Donghai Bridge leading to Yangshan Deepwater Port

Donghai Bridge leading to Yangshan Deepwater Port

The Yangshan Deepwater Port is a part of Shanghai Harbour, widely known and recognised as ranking first worldwide. The port was first established in 2002, constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). It has an annual TEU (Twenty foot Equivalent Unit) of over 15 million standard containers.  A strength of a port is assessed by the amount of containers and TEU per month.

Soon enough, the first structure that comes into view welcoming visitors to the port Island is the phase four of the Port. Its impressive structure throws a lot of questions at you. For example, why is it called the ‘ghost port’ so eerily empty of life and yet functioning as if by invisible hands? The answer brings about a satisfied sigh of relief. Phase four of the deepwater port is completely manned by robots which are controlled and monitored from another section of the island. And as such the locals nicknamed the port, ‘the ghost port’.

The coastal lines of the Port from Phase One to Three is at a length of 5.3 km, while Phase Four is at 2.8 km coastal line. The Port has 16 Berths, and 65 RTG machinery for loading and offloading containers. The reason why it is called a deepwater port attests to the fact that the water level is at a depth of 15 metres.

China Harbour Engineering, also builders of Lekki Port in Nigeria, got the phase four fully operational from 2017. With seven berths, it boasts of the most advanced machinery in the world.

According to Mr Wei, the ports reserved land kept for future development is about 15 km in length. It has LNG port and tanks for oil and gas. Mr Wei also explained that the total investment of the developed areas of the port runs at 12 billion USD.

“After we built this, the Shanghai port ranked number one in the world. Singapore is after it,” he said proudly, adding, “We have 2000 staff in the Port area apart from service staff,” creating employment in the region.

“At the LNG port we import the gas from Malaysia and other countries. Three (3) million tonnes per year from outside,” Wei added.

On the construction of the deepwater port, the director highlighted, “More than 20,000 people built the port with over 20 construction companies involved in its construction.”

In terms of challenges encountered while building the port, he noted that, “The construction period lacked basic materials such as fresh water, electricity and so on. Only diesel generator was used and fresh water was transported from the city. The natural condition was tough, wind and waves, depths of sea water when pipes were built in the sand is very challenging. There were also several technical challenges,” he averred, reminiscing.

Furthermore he explained that the initial land mass was just 10 percent, with the remaining 90 percent as reclaimed land, manmade land which had to go through the process of sand filling. He also pointed out other challenges which included acquiring the two unique machineries which were used in the drilling and reclamation process of 90 percent of the sea.

Building such a structure in the Pacific Ocean is not an easy task, lives were on the line with the risky, yet daring endeavor that has eventually paid off. Mr Wei, however confided that with safety given top most priority, no lives were lost, but there were a number of injuries recorded, taking into consideration the challenging terrain of the work environment. He assured that a lot of health and safety drills and checks were put in place to protect staff while the Deepwater Port was being constructed.

Shanghai situated near the Yangtze River, facing the Pacific Ocean according to reports has a population of 24.1970 as of the end of year 2016. It has been named, Çhina’s largest economic centre with GDP per capita at USD 17,105 in 2016 according to Shanghai Basic Facts. Shanghai is also recognised as an international shipping centre with container trade and over 500 ports worldwide. Its ports handled 701.7656 million tons of goods in 2016 with its volume of international container reaching tops for seven straight years. It is ranked one of the largest in the world.

According to China Communications Construction manual, in 2005, the port handled 3.24 million TEU. Last year that number was 15.40 million which has made the average annual growth rate over 20 percent. Shanghai port has outdone the port of Singapore to become the world’s busiest container port for five consecutive years.

Reports also point out that the container throughput of Shanghai Port has ranked first place for seven consecutive years.