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Major Bottleneck of Yangtze Transport Cleared in C China

A 10,000-ton cargo ship fleet passed through the formerly shallow Luohuzhou section of the Yangtze River on Wednesday, marking the completion of a two-year clearance project to break the bottleneck.

The six-vessel fleet laden with iron ore, took 1.5 hours to pass through the 12-kilometer section which had infrequently in the past stranded heavyweight fleets going to Wuhan, the largest city in central China.

The central government's budget of 133 million yuan (US$18.7 million) resulted in a comprehensive clearance of the section over the last two year, said Peng Songbai, a Wuhan-based Yangtze River Waterway Bureau official.

The channel depth was now more than 4.5 meters, which allowed a10,000 ton grade fleet to pass, he said.

There are more than 40 major shallow water areas or rocks hindering transport on the Yangtze, the world's busiest waterway. More than 20 are in the middle reaches.

China invested 1.7 billion yuan last year to clear eight shallow sections in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze. It planned to remove others by 2010.

The 6,300 km Yangtze River is a major transport link between west, central and east China. More than 1,100 million tons of cargo were shipped on the river last year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2008)

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