Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Penang Port will be staying put

There was never any plan to relocate the Penang Port nor has it been discussed in any Penang Port Commission (PPC) planning committee or board meeting, said its chairman Tan Cheng Liang.

Stressing that the suggestion to move the port had only been a proposal during a recent PPC dialogue, she reassured port users and investors that the port was set to stay in Penang.

“Moving a port is not like moving house. The downstream-related industries and operations will all be affected.

“Because of Penang’s airport and seaport, we have attracted a lot of investors and the manufacturing players, industrial players, multi-national companies and logistics suppliers are all here,” Tan said at a press conference at Bangunan Sri Weld yesterday.

“The chain of industry has been here so long. How are we going to move them? That is not economically viable.”

Tan said large amounts of funds had already been committed to upgrading the Penang Port, including RM1.1bil to further develop it to a main line port under port operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd’s 2007-2012 business plan.

She added that about RM300mil had been dedicated to re-develop the Prai Wharf while another RM62mil had been spent to complete the Penang International Cruise Terminal.

She said the 224-year-old port was an important part of the Northern Corridor Economic Region as Penang was a logistics hub and would play an even bigger role once the Ipoh-Padang Besar railway double-tracking project was completed at the end of 2013.

She said the proposal of relocating the port was brought up by the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce in a written question at a PPC dialogue with port users last Thursday.

“They are concerned that the North Channel is subjected to heavy siltation and that capital dredging is continually required to maintain the needed draft. Their question was also taken up by the Penang Freight Forwarders Association during the dialogue.

“Everyone has a right to ask questions and air their opinions but Transport Minister (Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat) never made any statement that the port would move,” Tan said.

She added that the Federal Government had put capital dredging in the North Channel as a top priority under the 10th Malaysia Plan where the draft would be increased to 14.5m to accommodate larger ships at the port.

PPC currently spends RM30mil in maintenance dredging every year to keep the draft at 9m to 11m while RM350mil in capital dredging is needed every 10 years, Tan said.

Source: Star Property

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