YUZHNY (Xinhua) — A huge hydraulic excavator grabs a coat of grey muck and loads it on barges, which then transfer the waste to the dump site. Ukraine's Black Sea port of Yuzhny is in the midst of a major dredging operation.
Beijing-based China Harbor Engineering Company, or CHEC, is carrying out the dredging, helping Ukraine to transform the Soviet-built port into a modern maritime facility and write the new chapter in the history of Yuzhny.
Founded in 1978, Yuzhny is one of Urkaine’s three major ports. Last year, it became the busiest seaport of the country, loading 39 million metric tons of commodities, or 30 percent of Ukraine's total maritime cargo turnover.
The dredging is a key part of the Ukrainian government’s strategy to make Yuzhny an important transport hub on the crossroads of global trade and a link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Last April, CHEC won the $38 million contract to upgrade the port, coming out ahead of four leading dredging and marine services companies from Europe.
Lin Tao, head of the representative office of CHEC in Ukraine, said the Chinese company decided to enter the Ukrainian market after the introduction of an innovative tendering system.
"In 2016 the Ukrainian government presented a platform for electronic procurement ProZorro,” Lin told Xinhua. “It seemed to us that it opened the opportunity for fair competition among all contractors, so we decided to participate in the tender for the implementation of this project.”
In July, CHEC started the dredging which aims to deepen the approach channel of the port from 16 meters to 19 meters. The works initially were set to be completed in March 2018. But they are running ahead of schedule.
Maksym Shyrokov, the head of Yuzhy port administration, said the Ukrainian side is very satisfied with the cooperation with the Chinese company.
"The arrival of the equipment was at the agreed time, the beginning of the work was also timely,” Shyrokov told Xinhua. “The filling out all the documents, obtaining all necessary licenses and permits was made by the Chinese company clearly, on time and without violations."
"I can only envy and boast that we are working with the Chinese company CHEC," he added.
Shyrokov was echoed by Vitaly Lipsky, chief engineer at Yuzhy port. He said the technical side of cooperation with the Chinese partners is perfect.
"This is a good company, with its own dredging fleet, with its own technical specialists," Lipsky told Xinhua.
A dredging crew of 21 equipment units currently works at Yuzhny. They have removed about 1.7 million cubic meters of mud from the Yuzhny bottom, completing about 25 percent of the first part of the dredging.
The project is designed to allow entry of large cargo ships into the port, to expand productivity of the maritime facility and to create additional opportunities for Ukraine to boost its trade.
Prospects are promising for agriculture trade. A major grain terminal with an annual loading capacity of 5 million tons of grain is under construction at Yuzhny.
Together, the dredging and the terminal construction projects are forecast to boost Ukraine's grain export capacity by 15 percent.
Raivis Veckagans, head of Ukrainian State Seaports Authority, said the dredging also may help Yuzhny become a transit facility on the Silk Road.
"We must focus especially on the promotion of geographical transit,” Veckagans said. This concerns cargo flows from Asia to Belarus, Moldova, Poland and Germany."
Ukraine formally joined the Silk Road project in 2015, launching a train to China via the sea-rail Trans-Caspian International Transport Route through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
Posted Oct. 13, 2017