All Sarawak ports except Tanjung Manis recorded increase in cargo throughput — Masing

SARAWAK-OWNED Port Authorities namely Kuching, Rajang, Miri, Tanjung Manis and Samalaju recorded an increase of 7.2 percent or 1.53 million tonnes from about 21.26 million tonnes in 2017 to about 22.79 million tonnes in cargo throughput last year.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said the Kuching Port Authority, Miri Port Authority, Rajang Port Authority and Samalaju Port recorded an increase of 6.1 per cent, 7.3 per cent, 11.8per cent and 49.6. per cent in 2018 respectively in cargo throughput.

However, Tanjung Manis Port Authority reported a decrease of 24.9 per cent mainly due to a decrease in export of timber commodities handled through this port.

“The main issue that constrains the growth of these ports is the shallow access channels,” said Masing, who is also of Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication in his ministerial winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly sitting.

He pointed out that Miri Port for instance, the shallow depth of Kuala Baram has always become an obstacle for Miri Port to attract bigger vessels.

Presently, Miri Port only handles 25.8 per cent of its design cargo throughput capacity of 3.5 million tonnes, although this port is located strategically within a vast industrial estate at Kuala Baram, servicing Miri City and the northern region of Sarawak, facilitating the local industrial and commercial and economic activities of Miri in particular and Sarawak as a whole.

“In 2010, the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia has appointed a local specialist consultant in the fields of hydraulic and coastal engineering, port economics, logistics and transport planning to carry out the study on the deepening of Kuala Baram access channel under the Federal Government funding.

“The study was completed in October 2012.

“The proposed capital dredging of the Kuala Baram riverine access channel was submitted to the Federal Government under the 11th Malaysia Plan but it was not approved. Therefore, the proposal will be resubmitted in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

“Meanwhile, a task force committee headed by Miri Port Authority has been set up to work out short-term strategies to alleviate the shallow channel. One of the proposed solutions is to utilize the channel maintenance fee collected to carry out the dredging of the access channel in stages,” he said.

As for Kuching Port with its strategic location and servicing the capital city of Sarawak, Masing said it is also facing a similar riverine access channel issue.

“However, the Sarawak Government has managed to secure funding from the Federal Government for capital dredging and it is implemented by Malaysian Marine Department under the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia.

“As of March 2019, the physical progress was reported at 75.4 per cent against the schedule of 66.7 per cent.

“The project is expected to be completed as scheduled on 22 November 2019,” he said.

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