The growth of cargo in Malaysian ports for the first six month this year is a very encouraging sign for the port businesses. If the growth continues for the next six month then Malaysian ports would have a very good year and investors would be lining up to snap-up port shares whenever they are available on the market. It is good to see various port shares trading on the KLSE moving upwards and hopefully will be better by the year end.
Ports infrastructures also had remarkable growth – the opening of the Sepangar Bay Container Port, Kota Kinabalu on 1st June 2007, marked a very important step in the development of ports in East Malaysia and particularly in Sabah. After a long break ports in Sabah are beginning to throb again, congratulations to Sabah Ports Sendirian Berhad. When I took a brief visit to the Terminal on 27th June 2007, I saw the container yard was full of containers and I think SPSB may need to reclaim more land for bigger yards!
The deepening of the North Channel in Port Kelang to enable larger container ships to enter and exit is another exciting development and hope will be completed soon. In Penang we have the development of the Swettenham Pier, on the Penang Island, into a cruise and leisure terminal intending for the cruise industries which is a booming industry in the Strait of Malacca. Of course, there are also ongoing development activities in PTP, Bintulu and private ports in Peninsular Malaysia.
Port physical growth is encouraging for the future of our economic well being, but we shall not forget another equally important area that needs growth – the port human resouces. As major ports in Malaysia grow ahead and port regulators are also expanding in order to cope with new areas of responsibilities, personnel with experience and know-how are slowly leaving the ports and pensioning off from port regulators. New personnel are recruited to replace those that left. The arrival of new personnel which is fresh from universities and colleges and without the in-depth knowledge and experience of those that left have begun to create a vacuum in the ports. Many port regulators are faced with this dilemma and urgent training of these young and fresh intakes are required in order to get trained and knowledgeable personnel. APA Malaysia had identified many courses that will be held and suitable trainers are being identified and methodologies discussed. I certainly hope that more young officers could be trained jointly by APA Malaysia instead of individually by one port . This is where APA Malaysia could be very useful in conducting joint training for all.
New and interesting ideas are being pushed – such as the Trans-Peninsular Pipeline project from Pulau Bunting, Yan, Kedah to Bachok, Kelantan to transfer oil from Strait of Malacca to South Chine Sea without passing the Straits of Malacca and Singapore – the world’s most congested international waterways. Whether this will materialised and be a reality, time will tell. If it become a reality, then Malaysia will have two additional ports to manage. It will be very challenging for young port officers who will be entrusted to run and manage new ports of the future. What we have to do now is train as many as possible to enable them to take the challenge and manage future ports in Malaysia and the world!
Abdul Rahim bin Akob