The Cat Lai port on November 4 held a meeting with the representatives of the shipping firms relating to the notices from the ports in the US and the EU which have decided to stop carrying cold containers from Vietnam. At the meeting, the representatives of the shipping firms agreed to find a foreign prestigious inspector who will join hands with domestic agencies to examine and make conclusion about the reasons behind the cold container explosions.

In late October, Tan Cang Saigon port received the notices from some foreign shipping firms on the suspension of PTI technical check at the Cat Lai port, and of the container gas-relating repairs.

The notices were released after the explosions of some cold containers, used to carry frozen exports, from Vietnam. In April, two containers of a foreign shipping firm exploded at Tan Cang - Cat Lai port. The explosions of the two containers both occurred just 15-20 minutes after the plugging in to operate PTI, killing one and injuring six.

One month after the explosions, the investigation team of the Tan Cang Port Development Corporation made a conclusion that the explosion occurred because the gas contained impurities.

In October, an explosion occurred in China with an empty cold container of a shipping firm. After that, another explosion took place at a port in Brazil. The shipping firms all said that the container packing was made in Vietnam.

The British Hutchison port informed on its website that shipping firms should check cold containers which have been used in Vietnam in the last three months.

Once the cold containers from Vietnam get isolated and have to bear strict control, this will lead to the required higher transportation time and higher costs for enterprises.

According to the Vietnam Ship Agents and Brokers Association (Visaba), the US and EU port authorities have put pressure on shipping agents, forcing them to stop carrying the containers that use cold technique services in Vietnam.

The explosions occurred only at one port of Vietnam, but they have had big negative impacts, which will bring big losses to Vietnam.

"If the current problem cannot be settled, shipping agents will shift to use the cold container checking service in other countries instead of Vietnam," the representative of Visaba said. The ships leaving for the US, for example, would drop into Hong Kong to have PTI check instead of using Vietnamese services.

If so, Vietnam will lose 15-20 dollars per every container which has PTI checked.

He went on to say that it is necessary to verify the standards of the gas suppliers who provided gas to the shipping firms whose container explosions occurred.

If the Vietnamese competent agencies cannot show the convincing conclusions and concrete solutions to the problem, Vietnamese cold containers would be added into the black list, which will severely affect the exports from Vietnam, a Japanese shipping firm has warned.

Ngo Minh Thuan, deputy general director of Tan Cang Saigon Port has committed to use the exact gas products required by shipping firms from official suppliers who can show origins and have certificates.

Regarding a long term solution, Tan Cang Saigon is considering importing gas directly from foreign importers. From mid November, Tan Cang will begin verifying the gas quality with a machine in order to supervise the gas quality before charging gas to containers.

Vietnam Business News - November 11, 2011