Plan for expansion of the newly completed Sepanggar Container Port Terminal (SPTC) is being foreseen.

Infrastructure Development Minister, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan yesterday said Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd (SPSB), the government-linked company managing the port, was already mulling on expansion plan to further improve the port’s capacity.

The port, sitting on a 22 hectare land started operation June 9, 2007, has a capacity of 500,000 TEUs but last year it handled only about 200,000 TEUs, as revealed by its Chief Operating Officer, Mohd Sahid Nawab Khan.

However, according to Pairin, since commencing operation it has recorded a commendable increase in terms of operational performance and thus an expansion plan was something to look forward to.

He said the move to privatize the ports in Sabah has resulted in a more efficient management where a steady increase in operational performance has been noticeable.

“Operation wise, the privatization is showing a desirable result as the performance of our port continues to improve. We are heading towards the right direction,” he told reporters here yesterday during a visit to SPTC yesterday.

He said the scale of the expansion would depend on future needs and it would involve increasing the size of the container yard and docking areas.

Pairin who was in his first work visit to the port since taking over the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in May, however regretted that high percentage of empty containers going out from the port has continued.

He said this was due to Sabah still not producing sufficient manufactured product for export.

In the mean time, SPSB Chairman Datuk Karim Bujang explained that Sabah currently exports mainly crude palm oil which does not require the usage of containers.

Sahid added that 70 per cent of the total containers handled that entered through the port last year returned empty and the figure has increased slightly this year.

Other ports around the globe, he noted, were showing similar trend due to global economic slowdown.

Most of the cargos it handles are from Peninsular Malaysia with a small percentage of transit cargos.

By :  Sabah Times

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