Since 2004, many accreditations have been awarded to China for its investments in ports with in view of increasing trade and connections with other countries. By the end of 2004, China had 2,500 berths, constructed for the medium-sized or large capacity containers, docking in the ports. Improvements expanded the capacity of the ports in China to 61.5 million standard containers in one year. As an economic hub of the country, the government plan to increase its investment by maintaining the ports with the help of the communities and the citizens. These changes create a danger to the communities and personnel working in the ports, which should be examined. This paper, therefore, discusses the economic and safety issues the country should settle to become successful in the port investment.
China is hast the largest container capacity in the world (Lenze and Schriwer 20). In addition, other ports of the country have also been ranked among top 50 in container handling. Water infrastructure in China is the source of many resources such as coal, iron ore, and grains. Both imports and exports are conducted with major trading countries on the global scale. The ports are also associated with the container transport, which has been strengthened by the investment since 2004. Ports at Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shangai, Ningbo, Xiamen, and Shenzen were constructed as deep-water wharves to increase the container transport (Rosas, Humberto, and Gao 350).The investment into the ports by the Chinese government presents three kinds of issues that should be taken into consideration. These include marine transportation, welfare of the harbor communities, and coastal hazards that might occur. The success of the ports and the economic impact they have on the country are vast and demonstrate potential for steering the country towards greatness in terms of trade and global ties. As the ports open China to the world market, the government should emphasize this fact, ensuring that the citizens benefit from the investment economically or socially.
According to KPMG International Corporative report, transportation through the sea has become an important contributor to the progress of China as a global marketer (22). The various raw materials coming and moving out of the country are mostly transported by sea. As a result, there are chances of variation in shipment sizes in the port (Li 132). The differences increase the need to establish a plan that will ensure the construction of the ports handles the different cargo ships coming and going out. The building and maintenance are dependent on the capacity that the port can handle at once or during a specific period, such as a full year. In a year, China is estimated to receive 61.5 million standard sized containers (Zhang, Huang, and Zhao 126). The ships transporting these containers are of various sizes and depths, which is a factor of consideration when the investment is done. Different ports in the country are constructed with a specific capacity that enables a ship to dock and leave quickly.
The demands of the market and movements of goods shift constantly, which means that the current capacity will quickly increase with time. Similarly, other markets and investors might develop an interest in conducting transactions with China, leading to an increment in the size received and packed for transportation. Currently, the ports in China have established market relationships with United States, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, and Brazil (Bahmani‐Oskooee and Wang 323). Brooks and Cullinane (337) assert that the port investment exposes China to many market opportunities and businesses, which are beneficial to the progress of the country. To make the transportation efficient, the government has to emphasize research work and surveys in the ports to determine the capacity they can handle in terms of freights. Due to the huge population of China, changes in the imports and the business sector are expected to occur quickly. These changes mean more containers in the ports and an increased number of economic activities for the benefit of the country. Through the surveys and research work, the government will have an accurate estimation of the capacity the ports can maintain and the enhancements that can be done to increase the capacity in case there are changes. As a result, the country will be equipped with the current abilities to expect increment in the future.
Receiving the cargo is the first objective for ensuring that marine transportation is addressed in the ports of China. However, the transportation of these shipments from the ports of the mainland is another objective that the country should invest into to maintain a constant flow. The movement of goods from the port to the mainland is a challenge that other businesspersons could face due to the transportation charges or the means of transportation. Moreover, the transportation problem could affect the movement of goods that are perishable, fragile, or not carefully handled during the transportation (Wang 128). Despite the disclosure of the type of goods a container brings, the port should have a system that allows transportation of goods to the owners easily. The duration of movement from the port to the owner matters greatly, considering the urgency of the products and their use. Yeo, Roe, and Dinwoodie (911) state that the variation in size and capacity of handling containers in the ports may lead to delays of the vessels to the owners. However, the size a port can handle can be used as a basis for evaluation of the different alterations that can be made to ensure that the transportation from the ports of the mainland is active.
Similarly, the transportation is directly related to the change in the movement of freights in the port. When the number of received containers increases at any time, the transportation needs of the cargo also arise. It reflects the activities that become more hectic in the port as well. These changes might be uncontrollable, leading to delays or cancelation of delivery from some containers in the harbor. In such a situation, it will be impossible to maintain the current movement of goods to and from the ports, which might also affect the business and ultimately the economy. Liu, Shao-ju, and Wang (160) mention that the movement of containers from the docks is mostly done by trucks owned by private firms or individuals who have their cargo on the wharf. The investment in the ports should also focus on the changes that the completion of the ports will have on the country.
Another significant factor worth consideration is the safety of the port. Many accidents can happen that might lead to the loss of lives. A number of cases in other countries, with a devastating impact on the people affected, have been reported. According to the research conducted by Yip (5) within the period of 1984-2011, the leading type of accidents in the ports have been collisions, rated at 69%. It is followed by nonimpact, which were rated 23%. On the other hand, groundings were measured the least, only 8%.
The investment in ports is a job opportunity that the country will create for its citizens. Marine traffic accidents are some of the challenges that personnel risk to face. Establishment of marine transportation centers is one of the solutions to evading these accidents in the harbor. The handling of containers is also a risk that people working there are exposed to in their daily activities. Accidents are unavoidable; however, with active systems, there is a high chance of reducing their occurrence and the damage they might cause. Another research study by Darbra and Casal (1) showed that a high number of accidents in the ports are related to releases. A sampling of the world reported accidents places releases among the most prevalent accidents in the ports. Releases are then followed by fires, explosions, and gas clouds respectively. These accidents are common during the loading or offloading, storage, and the processing. As a result, all the processes that take place in the port present a challenge to the workers and the people involved in the transportation of cargoes.
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In the process of securing the ports from the dangers that the people involved are exposed to, environmental issues should also be considered. Ports are a complex system that might be a trigger for the increase in air and water pollution in a region (Smith 23). The movement of ships and cargo in the port might lead to the spill of oil in the water, which is a threat to the aquatic life and the plantation around the sea. Testa and Jacobs (310) mention that oil spills are commonly related to soil contamination, which, if spread along the shores of the sea, affects the agricultural production. Additionally, ports are also a source of noise and dust-related problems. As a result, the Chinese government should invest in training the employees working in the harbor and provide them with safety materials . Security measures should be increased in the handling and processing of cargoes to eliminate chances of an accident.
In 2013, an oil pipeline exploded in Qingdao, leaving 35 people dead and 166 injured. The spill spread to the sea, impairing the crude importation in the country. Related accidents include a hole that was opened on the road and fire that was lit in the sea after oil and gas line burst. Back in 2011, there was a leak in Bohai Sea, which covered 840 square kilometers of the sea. Other accidents in the ports also stressed the need to establish a safety body that would manage such incidences in the port in case they occur. As a result, the CMSA (China Maritime Safety Administration) was given more administration authority to manage such incidences and future accidents. The investment should focus on providing CMSA with more resources to act during such situations.
The construction of the ports is a benefit to the country in terms of economic flow and trade with the outside world. The construction, however, directly influences many communities that live around these areas. The operations in the port have a social, an economic, and an environmental impact on the communities living there it. The changes might be dramatic in some instances and subtle in others. In such accidents as oil spills, many areas around the sea are affected as pH of the soil changes, becoming barren lands. Similarly, the agricultural activities in these areas are affected, which might result in lack of food resources in these regions. Considering the population of China, any factor that might affect agricultural production will have a devastating impact on the country as a whole.
The investment in ports increases the need for creating sustainable policies that will help conserve natural resources around these areas. The hazards and accidents in the ports can affect the water or the surrounding land. As a result, natural resources are at risk of being affected and destroyed. Food security in the country is at threat if effective planning and resource allocation is not done to ensure that such areas are not protected. The activities in the ports should be monitored by the government officials and the third party organizations in order to establish the approaches they may use to prevent pollution in these areas. Furthermore, the investment in the ports should also cover the maintenance of the fields around the harbor. Commissioning environment awareness organizations to perform regular checks , would help increase care for the natural resources there. The investment in the ports should also enhance the number of studies conducted at a set interval to determine the impact of the performed activities. These research studies help establish the damage to the coast and the solutions that can be implemented to eradicate further impact on the surrounding areas.
Also, emphasis should be made on the communities living around the port. Noise, water, and air pollution are all directly related to the people living around the harbor.
The communities in the areas surrounding the port might suffer greatly from poor water quality or lack of food when there is an oil spill. The areas around the ports are a hub for businesses, including recreational, sports, and social activities. However, they also form a great attraction to criminal activities aimed at the goods transported in the cargoes. Security measures in these areas are concentrated in the ports while the neighboring residential areas are left unguarded. The investment in the port will not have a positive impact on the country if the people who receive and aid in the transportation of the goods to the mainland live a miserable life. Maintaining their living standards in terms of business ventures and government support in terms of funds and political support, will help increase the movement of goods from the ports to the inland. The government in its move to invest in the construction and maintenance of the ports should also put in place plans to increase the economic status of the areas. In addition, the ports also increase the trading capability of the areas around the harbor, which is a major contributor to the country’s GDP.
Opportunities for new business activities in these areas are high with no or small support to grow. As a result, the people live on the wage coming from their labor at the port or the transportation of goods. Companies for processing perishable goods in these areas could help reduce the amount of products that might be destroyed if the owner delays collecting. The government can also support these communities by increasing the social amenities within the region. Pollution from the sea might create a hazardous health defect that, without immediate attention, can lead to deaths. In 2010, it was estimated that nearly 1.2 million premature deaths were caused by air pollution in the cities near the port (Shapiro 125). The fuel and sulfur burnt in one ship produces an amount of chemicals that is similar to 500,000 Chinese trucks on the road. It is emitted to the atmosphere of the neighboring cities and people living there are at greater risk of inhaling the polluted air (Hui 226).
To reduce the impact of the pollution on the citizens and the employees at the site, the government can establish Emission Control Areas. These will be used to enact the measures taken by a region to prevent the occurrence of pollution. However, since the chemicals are closely linked to the health of the people, immediate response teams and approaches should be applied (Lin and Lin 222). The investment in ports by the Chinese government is a possibility of creating more professional job opportunities for the country and the communities in the surrounding region. The investment increases the market demand for professionals to work in the port both as manual and casual workers, which also creates an economic advantage for the country in terms of taxes. It is worth mentioning that the markets around the ports will have more customers and traders, which boosts the economy of the country. However, without adequate plans that prepare these areas for the influx of trade and economic change, many businesses will fail to raise dwindling living standards of the communities.
Safety in the ports is sufficient if all the people and causative agents are protected. Similarly, disasters be avoided if the personnel have proper training and are aware of their responsibility before they start working. The communities living near the harbors are vulnerable to dangers that might be caused by the processes there. If there is a leak of a hazardous material, their health is at risk because of close location. The venture aims at increasing the capacity of the ports in terms of cargo handling and the amount of ships docking. The improvements will increase the processes and movements of goods, which also increases the vulnerability of the communities and the personnel. As a result, safety measures should be strengthened to ensure that the communities and the people handling the materials are safe. The emphasis should be made on the handling of hazardous or chemical cargoes coming to the harbor and the manner in which they are transported.
Cases of hazardous material leaks have been reported in many other ports around the world. Early 2015 in January, toxic peroxide gas leaked in the Port of Olympia (Port of Olympia Vs. Arthur S. West and Jerry L. Dlbr K. Er Jr.). The spread of the toxic gas was halted with no deaths or a serious impact on the neighboring communities. Another incident happened in 2014, where a ship on course to Ashdod port was leaking explosive materials. The substance identified as isopropyl peroxide would have caused a great damage to the community near the sea and the aquatic life in general. Serving as examples of the recent accidents in ports around the world, safety measures implemented in other countries that have faced the same situation would provide a guideline worth consideration.
Accidents are inevitable at any time due to human errors or natural causes. The dangers they pose to the personnel and the communities around the harbor should be studied before the investment is made. Research work on the vulnerability of the staff and the communities around the port can help reduce future risks. The investment should include a response team and specialized trained staff who will have the responsibility for handling the containers that might cause disasters to the staff and the communities around. Moreover, health issues and precautions should also be considered to ensure that in cases of an outbreak there is an immediate response to help curb the spread and eliminate the consequent threat to the people.
Yi and Özdamar (1177) assert that the response to a disaster or accident helps determine the impact and the number of people affected. Badiru and Racz (220) add that inadequate response facilities in many ports have been attributed to the huge losses of property and lives. At particular time of the year when the ports are congested, the response to a disaster or accident may be impossible. It also can be a trigger for huge impacts on the people working in the port and the community in general. At such times, fire and leakages may deeply influence the personnel and cause both air and water pollution.
On the other hand, during a less busy season, the ports are not congested and it is easy to deal with accidents. Even though it is not hard to control the impact of a disaster during the low season, response teams and safety measures should still be in place to ensure that the damage does not become significant. However, in the high and low season, the government should prepare professionals and provide personnel who are to ensure that in case of an accident, there is an immediate response that can resolve the situation.
The investment in ports should also develop other interests, which the government should take into consideration. The safety of the ports and the personnel working there should be catered for in the budget allocated for the investment. In their daily activities, they constantly risk to harm their health. In connection with the safety of the personnel, one should pay attention to the handling of the cargoes in the harbor and the dangers they present to the environment. An enormous number of cargoes or goods together with ships that dock in the port might be a cause of air or water pollution. However, with the implementation of efficient systems and response teams, the safety of the harbor and the personnel will be achieved. Similarly, addressing issues of pollution before they happen, is another strategy that the government of China can use to ensure that the investment in the ports is a success.