The work is proceeding at a snail's pace though the deadline is long past.
Thang told a recent meeting in Ha Noi that despite the great efforts made by the city and port operators to move the ports out under a government master plan, the task has proved to be arduous and cumbersome and been delayed by three years.
He blamed the delay on many factors, including the failure of ministries and other agencies tasked with the work to work closely.
His ministry is the unit responsible for overseeing the relocation, but it has not shown enough determination to accomplish the task, he admitted.
To speed up the work, he has assigned a deputy minister to find out what hurdles the port operators are facing in moving their ports out.
His ministry would work with other relevant ministries and local authorities to resolve all problems, he promised.
In the meantime, it would have to quickly complete expansion of Highway 51 and review construction of the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau expressway, he said.
He urged city authorities to be more active in allocating land to the operators so that they can build new ports.
They would also have to help the Sai Gon Port Authority clear land for the construction of the first and second phases of the Sai Gon –Hiep Phuoc Port, and allot land for the Tan Thuan Dong Port, he said.
He urged Ba Ria-Vung Tau authorities to co-operate with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and seek funds from the Government for building a road linking Cai Mep and Thi Vai ports.
He called on the Ministries of Finance, and Planning and Investment to allocate funds for building transport infrastructure to link ports and for ports' relocation.
Slowed to a crawl
Considering that growth in container cargo is developing at 25 percent a year, HCMC authorities have revised the goods target to 200 million tonnes by 2020.
To accomplish this, the authorities made plans to move the 11 HCM City-based ports on the Saigon River to the suburbs, five of them ��" Sai Gon Port, Tan Cang Port, the Vegetable Port, Tan Thuan Dong Port, and Ba Son Shipyard ��" by 2010.
But so far only Tan Cang (the New Port) has been moved to District 2. The other four are still in the process of land acquisition and other preliminary work, and face a lot of hurdles.
Nguyen Nhat, director of the Viet Nam Maritime Administration, said only 28 per cent of the proposed Sai Gon-Hiep Phuoc Port, which will replace Sai Gon Port, has been completed.
Among the many reasons for the slow progress is shortage of funds, he said, adding that Sai Gon-Hiep Phuoc Port Company owes contractors over VND153 billion (US$7.28 million).
HCM City has 25 functioning ports on the Sai Gon, Dong Nai, Nha Be, Soai Rap, and Nga Bay Rivers, including five major ports on the Sai Gon River.