Dubai-based marine terminal operator DP World has started dredging of the Soai Rap River in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam to create a shorter channel for Hiep Phuoc Port.

Work under the $134m project, which is being carried out by a partnership of local and international dredging firms on behalf of the HCMC Government Department of Transport, will see a 54km channel dredged along the river.

Under the ten-month project, the channel will be dredged to a draft depth of 9.5m to allow vessels of 50,000t-70,000t to pass through.

The project intends to make the Soai Rap River the main entry into Hiep Phuoc Port rather than the Long Tau River, which can transport vessels of up to 30,000t.

After completion, the width of the dredged channel will be between 120m and 160m and commercial operation on the dredged channel is scheduled to commence from the fourth quarter of 2013.

DP World’s senior vice president and managing director of the Asia Pacific region Peter Wong said the project will help customers transport their products in larger ships and reach markets more quickly.

"It will also contribute to the development of the economic zones of HCMC and the South Economic Focus area, providing a new major transport artery for trade to develop and grow," Wong said. "The Saigon Premier Container Terminal (SPCT) was designed with this project in mind and we look forward to its completion."

The extended channel will be four times wider than the existing channel and is expected to reduce navigation times to Hiep Phuoc Port by two hours.

DP World commenced operation on Saigon Premier Container Terminal (SPCT), a joint venture between DP World and Vietnam’s IPC, in 2009 on the Soai Rap River.