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Hainan gets to grips with long queues at ports

Updated: Feb 9, 2024 By CHEN BOWEN in Haikou China Daily Print
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Since the beginning of this year's Spring Festival travel rush on Jan 26, the Qiongzhou Strait has teemed with ferries transporting vehicles between the provinces of Hainan and Guangdong, despite fog and wind occasionally posing challenges for the busy waterway.

To mitigate the long queues of vehicles leaving the island, Hainan has expanded parking spaces and increased the availability of ferry tickets, according to the Ministry of Transport.

During the first 10 days of the travel rush, 1,169,700 passengers and 273,100 vehicles have traveled the Qiongzhou Strait to and from the island, an annual increase of 31.8 percent and 17 percent, respectively, said Liu Peng, deputy director of the Hainan Provincial Department of Transport, at a news conference held on Monday.

He said travel on both sides of the strait has remained at a high level this year, with a notable increase in the proportion of large trucks compared to previous years.

Even with ships and ports operating at full capacity, as many as 6,000 vehicles at a time have queued up for ferry travel in Haikou during peak times.

Liu highlighted that, through collaborative efforts, emergency transport measures have managed to reduce the queue and wait times at ports.

As of 2 pm on Monday, the number of vehicles waiting to cross from the three ports in Haikou, Hainan's capital, has decreased from 6,000 to 1,513.

Furthermore, the wait time for passenger cars departing from Guangdong to the island has been reduced to less than three hours.

Additional ferry tickets went on sale on Monday for vehicles leaving Hainan from the ports of Xinhai and Xiuying in Haikou.

The tickets can be purchased from 8 am to 10 am and from 8 pm to 10 pm daily, according to the WeChat account Qiongzhou Strait Ferry Manager.

On Monday, Xinhai Port introduced a new ferry service at 4:30 pm daily, especially for new energy vehicles departing the island.

This additional ferry aims to complement the existing two departures at 10:30 am and 8:30 pm. Each ferry can transport up to 18 new energy vehicles.

For the travel rush, 54 passenger and vehicle ferries have been deployed and 25 berths have been allocated at Haikou's three ports — Xinhai, Xiuying and South Railway Port — according to Zhu Huomeng, deputy general manager of Hainan Harbor and Shipping Holding Co.

He said the company is committed to improving its shipping capabilities by increasing the number of crew members. It recently hired nearly 300 mariners to help ensure that the company can meet transportation needs, especially during peak traffic periods.

He also noted that all staff members have chosen to not take leave during the Spring Festival holiday, showing their dedication to serve during this critical time.

Feng Fei, Party secretary of Hainan, emphasized the importance of fostering a robust service-oriented mindset, streamlining the cross-strait transportation reservation system, achieving precise loading times and improving ferry transport efficiency during his visit to Xinhai Port to assess cross-strait transportation operations on Sunday.

Xiuying district in Haikou has set up four volunteer service stations to provide round-the-clock assistance for drivers waiting around the three ports, including offering water, food and information cards.

A passenger surnamed Huang received biscuits, mineral water and porridge from the service station on Tuesday.

"This service can make a big difference for my journey. It truly showcases the warmth and kindness of the people of Hainan," she said.

Li Zhongbiao, deputy secretary-general of the Haikou government, said: "We've made efforts to ensure basic necessities such as water, electricity, night lighting and public toilets in the waiting areas.

"We've also ensured sanitation, vehicle guidance and maintenance, and we have set up medical assistance service points at Xinhai Port, contributing to the well-being and convenience of travel for passengers."





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