The maritime industry welcomes the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) initiatives to improve related industry infrastructure, as it will give the industry a much needed boost in terms competitiveness against counterparts in neighbouring countries.
Dr Mohamed Amin Kassim, a founding member of the Malaysian Logistics Council, said although the general consensus might indicate that the country’s maritime infrastructure was already good, the 10MP initiatives would resolve some nagging issues to further improve the industry.
“For example, the Government has indicated that it will enhance the road connectivity to seaports and airports. The last-mile connectivity, especially to seaports, has always been a problem, thus the plan to work on that is a good thing,” he told StarBiz.
Amin, who is also deputy managing director of Century Logistics Holdings Bhd, lauded the Government’s initiative to improve multimodal connectivity between seaport, airport and rail, which was expected to ensure seamless transportation and distribution of goods.
“But, on the capital dredging part, the Government must justify why only certain ports are selected,” he said.
The Association of Malaysian Hauliers president Datuk Ahmad Shalimin Shaffie said the emphasis given to the logistics sector in the 10MP proved the Government recognised the importance of the sector to economic growth.
“The logistics sector should no longer be part of the services sector, but needed to be established as a stand-alone industry.
“Nevertheless, the association appreciates the initiatives identified under the new plan as it will enhance our competitiveness, especially against our regional rivals,” he said.
In the larger context of the 10MP, Shalimin said it was gathered that the objectives of the plan would only be achieved if everyone worked together.
“This is because 2020 is not that far away and we have to work hard to realise the vision to become a high-income economy.
“Thus, we must strive to move up the value chain in whatever we do. Innovation and productivity are the two key elements that will support that,” he said.
Among the notable maritime-related projects under the 10MP is land reclamation in Westports in Port Klang, where the financing will be under the facilitation fund that is expected to attract private sector investment of RM200bil during the next five years.
The Government also focused on the development of a wider and efficient multimodal transport network to support national growth.
The major projects currently being implemented include Phase 2 of the East Coast Expressway from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu, which will be completed during the plan period at a total cost of RM3.7bil.
The expressway will also be linked to Kuantan Port, which will be upgraded and spur growth in the east coast. Road networks to the hinterlands will also be improved.
Among them are the roads linking Kuala Lipis to Cameron Highlands, and Jerantut to Sungai Lembing.
In addition, the electrified double-track rail project from Gemas to Johor Baru, which is estimated to cost RM8bil, will be implemented to complete the entire rail project from Padang Besar in the north to Johor Baru in the south.
About RM2.7bil will be invested to build road and rails leading to key ports and airports, while logistics management will be improved to enhance efficiency in the transportation of cargo through rail, ports and airports.
In terms of maritime industry, the national port policy will be formulated during the 10MP to outline the strategic directions and further development of the port sector.
Maritime infrastructure will also be upgraded to ensure the competitiveness of Malaysian ports. The plan includes RM1bil for capital dredging of port channels to cater for bigger vessels and upgrading works at Westports and Port of Tanjung Pelepas to provide additional capacity for import and export of goods.
Key private investment during the period will include upgrading works at Westports, Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Penang Port.
As for airports, capacity would be expanded at a cost of RM3.3bil, as passenger arrivals are expected to grow to 62 million in 2015 from 47 million in 2008.