Kuantan Port expansion to boost trade

Kuantan Port ExpansionBILATERAL trade and investment with China will soon be given a shot in the arm with the expansion of Kuantan Port and as it adopts the Eastern Gateway name.

Offering the most direct route between both countries, it also reduces sailing time to three days between Kuantan and southern China.

East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Development Council chief executive officer Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said the Kuantan Port will serve the industries in ECER, with cargoes such as oil palm products, petrochemical products, bulk cargo (iron ore) and automotive parts and components, with the growth of the Pekan Automotive Park.

It will also serve bulk cargo and container traffic.

The government, he said, is investing RM1 billion to build the 4.7km breakwater at the port, one of the longest in the world, as well as upgrading external infrastructure to support the port expansion.

The newly built breakwater will create a sheltered basin that will allow berths to operate safely and efficiently throughout the year.

“The private-sector investment worth RM3 billion is for the carrying out of the capital dredging, reclamation works to create new development land, construction of new berths, operational buildings and facilities, and provision of equipment and machineries for port operations,” he said yesterday.

The expansion of Kuantan Port, which will be officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on September 7, will further accelerate the transformation of the region and position itself as the investment gateway to Asean and Asia Pacific.

Kuantan Port is now in the midst of expansion involving deepwater-dredging works.

John does not think the Malaysian ports will be competing against each other for transshipment.

“Each of Malaysia’s ports has its own unique positioning.

“In the case of Port of Tanjung Pelepas, it is strategically located at the confluence of the main east-west shipping lines whereas Kuantan Port is a multipurpose port located in the ECER Special Economic Zone, where there is already a concentration of various industries.”

A catalyst for the growth of traffic at Kuantan Port is the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), the sister park of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park that will promote the growth of bilateral trade with China.

The port concession is a joint venture between IJM Corp Bhd and the Guangxi Beibu International Port Group that operates four major ports in southern China, including Qinzhou Port.

“The marketing of Kuantan Port to international shipping lines is handled by the port operator, namely Kuantan Port Consortium.”

Meanwhile, ECER is expecting to complete the RM30 billion 620km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) feasibility study by early next year.

“The study covers both the engineering and financial aspects of the project,” he said.

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