Giant Carey Island port in the works

End of the day: Several ships plying the Malacca Strait in the background as a couple takes in the sunset on a beach in Carey Island.

PETALING JAYA: Northport. Westport. And next up is Carey Island, a massive port-industrial city project, with infrastructure investments of more than RM200bil covering an area of over 100sq km – more than twice the size of Putrajaya.

This giant new port will also be able to handle more cargo than the two existing ports combined.

According to Tan Sri Kong Cho Ha, chairman of Port Klang Authority (PKA) and Malacca Port Authority, the 20-year project will comprise the development of an integrated port and related infrastructure, industrial parks and free trade zones, commercial and residential buildings.

Once all three phases of development are completed, the total gross development value (GDV) could exceed RM1trillion.

“The whole of Port Klang is very congested now, and the ports are reaching maximum capacity. So we need to build another deep-sea port and develop capacity now to cater for our needs and growth,” said Kong in an exclusive interview with The Star.

The port within the project is envisaged to have an annual capacity to handle 30 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) of container cargo.

“If we do not do anything now, we will continue to play second fiddle to Singapore and will not get a share of the bigger pie in future,” Kong added.

Last year, Port Klang – the world’s 12th busiest container port – handled container cargo totalling 13.2 million TEUs, a rise of 10.8% over 2015. Its maximum capacity is 16 million.

In comparison, the Port of Singapore handled 30.9 million TEUs in 2015.

Kong said a new port offering comprehensive maritime services was vital for Malaysia as 80% of the world’s maritime trade between the East and West passed through the Straits of Malacca.

The congested strait also sees US$600bil (RM2.7 trillion) in annual oil trade – a third of global oil demand – passing through it.

Port Klang, Singapore and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas are considered major ports in the Strait.

According to Kong, a study commissioned by the PKA on the development of the port-city project was handed to and approved by his PKA board in November. The report has been submitted to the Transport Ministry and Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

As Sime Darby Bhd owns most of Carey Island, it will also have to be in the picture.

“Our consultants say we should have implemented this project long ago. I say this should have been done yesterday,” said Kong.

On the funding for the project, Kong said: “We are open to interested parties from port operators, shipping lines and infrastructure developers. They can be from China, Japan, USA, UAE, India, etc.”

“China is keen on developing the whole place. In China, every port is developing capacity now. We need to do something big to trade with them. Otherwise, we will be forever small,” said Kong.

In an interview with The Star six months ago, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he had presented the idea for this project to his counterpart in China, inviting them to jointly develop Carey Island into a deep-sea port that could also service Chinese ships plying the strait.

He disclosed that his ministry was talking to China Merchants Group (CMG) then. CMG is China’s state-owned conglomerate in the transportation infrastructure industry.

Kong said the proposed port-city would also provide maritime services that include bunkering, ship repairing and maintenance.

It will cater for container ships, bulk and liquid carriers, as well as vessels carrying grains, minerals and vehicles.

The first phase of development is expected to take about six to seven years if the project is launched this year.

“We must develop Carey Island if we want to be relevant and competitive – we must create capacity to cater for the future needs of the nation as the Prime Minister plans beyond 2020 and talks about TN50,” said Kong. THE STAR

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