New navigation signal and Yangon River

Yangon is still keeping up a development momentum despite suffering setbacks triggered by Covid-19 pandemic. Yangon is a commercial hub of the country, and so Yangon’s development plays a major role in the progress of economy of the State. Transport serves a major player in striving for the economic development of the State and carrying out trade activities with foreign countries. In doing trade activities with foreign countries, Yangon is in use of road, airway and waterway links. Almost 90 % of import goods are transported to the country by means of the waterway.
A good transport link ensures timely distribution of locally-made products to the domestic markets. Motorway, airway and waterway are means of transport, of which waterway is able to transport a very large number of tonnes of cargo costing little money. Yangon River plays a crucial part in times of exporting the goods from Yangon to foreign countries and importing the products from overseas nations into the country.

Loading and unloading of cargoes
The sea-going vessels transporting the goods of export and import have to be berthed at Yangon jetty, an international seaport, in order to load and unload cargoes there. To be able to enter Yangon jetty, Yangon waterway has to be used from the mouth of the river where it meets the sea. The sea-going vessels have to rely on Yangon River to transport the cargoes to and from Yangon port. To do so, existing signals and marks in Yangon River are needed to be upgraded so that the sea-going vessels would well understand them. The existing signals and marks formerly used in Yangon River are now outdated because of being old-fashioned and affected by the weather and therefore they should be substituted with highly sophisticated devices.
Myanmar Port Authority under the Ministry of Transport and Communications partnered with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for upgrading to navigation signals and marks for ensuring smooth and secure navigation in Yangon River.

Feasibility study conducted
Feasibility studies have been conducted in Yangon River since 2017. The studies included navigation support signals and marks in the river and those on land and estimated calculation of high tide and low tide.

Occurrences of shallowness spotted in Yangon River
Yangon River is 42 nautical miles long from Yangon Port to the mouth of the river where it meets the sea. Yangon Port is an international one, but not a deep seaport, and it is built on the bank of Yangon River. It’s natural that a river doesn’t have a regular depth, but have curves and bends with creeks and channels. Accordingly, it results in sand and mud left and blocked in the river. The sea-going vessels carrying a large number of tonnes of cargo are the long ones in size, and it is not easy for them to bend in the narrow river. The sea-going vessels can’t go in or go out if sounding or the depth of the water is not enough. The sounding is allowed to be 9 metre deep in Yangon River.

Just a difficulty
It is natural that shallowness occurs in the rivers. Shallowness causes two shoals—inner shoal and outer shoal in the river. Sand and mud are silted up in an inner place of the river where creeks and channels meet, which results in the inner shoal. The outer shoal occurs at the mouth of the sea where the seawater and the river water meet. As a result of that, the sandbank happens once at the inner shoal and another at the outer shoal. Forming sandbank is just a difficulty facing every jetty existing along the river.
Yangon jetty also has inner shoal and outer shoal, and both are mixed that cannot be separated. The outer shoal is located at the mouth of the sea at the meeting point of Bago river, Pazuntaung creek and Yangon River and this place is called Thanhlayet Monkey Point.
Designation of marks
Markings have to be designated for large sea-going vessels to sail along Yangon River. Sounding may be deep or not though its water surface is wide.

Maintenance to keep up standardization
Yangon port is an international one, and so according to the IALA Chart A designated by International Association of Lighthouse Authorities, the entering vessels have to show red light (red navigational buoy) on the left of the vessel and green light (green navigational buoy) on the right of the vessel. It is IALA a buoyage system for mariners. With the passage of time, navigational buoys became old and were damaged, and the cost of maintenance to keep up international standardization was higher as well.
International buoyage systems are being adapted in order to make it suitable for a new situation. The red navigational buoy is illustrated with the shape of a cylinder and the green navigational buoy with the shape of a funnel. For that reason the navigational signals currently operational in Yangon river call for installation of these systems.

Construction of new tide gauge
As stated by the plan of the JICA, navigational signals, light buoys and navigational markings existing along the bank of Yangon river damaged by weather are to be upgraded. The JICA’s upgrade plan also includes the major repair of tide gauge at Monkey Point and the construction of a new tide gauge at Elephant Point at the mouth of the sea.
By doing so, the project will enhance safety and efficiency of navigation along the Yangon river, and It is going to bizarrely emerge before long alongside already-upgraded international navigational systems and large sea-going vessels. Translated by Htut Htut (Twantay)

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