Vietnamese Fishermen Protest Port Development

Protesters clash with police at Nghi Thiet (social media image)

By MarEx 2016-08-03 21:09:55

On Sunday, hundreds of fishermen in a small port in Vietnam protested the construction of a new terminal for cement exports, a rare public display of dissent in the tightly controlled nation.

Local media report that one hundred policemen blocked the only road to the small village, Nghi Thiet, using parked fire trucks and ambulances to barricade the route. 

"At the edge of the village, I saw many policemen blocking the road,” 64-year-old Nguyen Nong told RFA. “I told them that I needed to go out to buy some medicine because I’m sick, and then I continued walking. One policeman kicked me in the chest, making me fall. Then they all stepped on me . . . A village doctor came to check on me and told me that I was injured in my chest because of their strong kicks.”

A clash between the protesters and the police ensued, and several protesters were reportedly beaten; some were taken to the hospital for treatment. 

The new export facilities are planned to support a cement plant for the Vissai Group, and will have a capacity of four million tons per year. Vissai received a loan for the terminal from state-owned development bank BIDV in February, and construction began in May.

The fishermen claim that the terminal will displace them and damage their livelihoods. They have rejected a government offer of compensation, which ranged from $200 to $2000 each depending on fishing vessel size. 

Vissai Cement operates five plants with millions of tons of exports per year (as of 2015). CEO Hoang Manh Truong told Vietnam's Bizhub last year that his focus is on "production capacity, product quality, [and] delivery schedule," rather than price, citing specifically the investment in the new port facility and the increase in export capacity it will bring.