Penang Port Sdn Bhd is confident of hitting one million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) this year based on encouraging year-to-date demand trend and strong economic recovery from its hinterland.
Managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Ibni Hajar said for the first six months of this year container volumes had increased by 27% to a total of 540,798 TEUs, compared with 424,713 TEUs in the same period last year.
“In July we recorded our highest ever monthly throughput of 99,568 TEUs,” he told StarBiz.
He said the port had always shown strong performance in the third quarter in the past years and expected the trend to continue in the current year. “Our confidence to hit one million TEUs is further enhanced by the strong economic recovery expected from the port’s hinterland,” he said.
Penang Port handled 950,000 TEUs last year.
On expansion, Ahmad said the Penang Port wharf extension at the north end of the container terminal from 900m to 1,500m was completed and could be utilised as soon as the port got approvals from the relevant authorities.
“The berth is widened by an additional 64m to the present 56m where it will be used as a decking area to facilitate faster vessel operations and the third access bridge is now in place.
“Also, a 25ha of storage yard is under the final stage of construction,” he said.
In terms of equipment, Ahmad said Penang Port had taken delivery of seven post-panamax cranes from Shanghai.
The cranes, which cost RM25mil each and have the ability to span across 18 rows of containers on board a ship, were delivered fully assembled.
“All the cranes are now undergoing rigorous testing procedures and will be operational as soon as the relevant approvals have been obtained.
“The twin lift cranes will further expedite vessel operations at the port,” he said.
At the moment, he said, they were awaiting other supporting equipment, namely eight units of rail-mounted gantry cranes and six units of rubber-tyred gantry cranes to serve the expanded storage area.
“The cranes are expected to be delivered over the next one-and-a-half years,” he said.
In line with these projects, Ahmad said the port would be enhanced with a new target of crane productivity at more than 25 moves per hour per crane as opposed to the present 22 moves per hour.
“With the expansion in place and supported by the plan to deepen and maintain the access at the north channel from its current 11.5m depth to 14.5m that will be carried out next year, this will enable Penang Port to attract more mainline calls and direct services.
“As a result of the completion of the expansion projects, the port-handling capacity will increase from a million TEUs to two million TEUs annually,” he said.
On the plan to publicly list the company, Ahmad said they were awaiting the Government’s approval.
The port recorded after-tax profit of about RM76.7mil last year against RM22.7mil in 2008.