With major front-end utility investments for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) such as water and power hook-ups now complete, efforts are shifting towards completing transportation infrastructure to accommodate the surge in the industrial park’s growing cargo traffic. This includes ongoing construction of two new dedicated ports – both of which are already operating on a limited capacity – as well as new overland transport arteries to complete the logistics chain from factory door to the ship hold.
SAMALAJU: Much of Sarawak’s future growth and economic diversification is predicated on the development of its SCORE industrial park located in central Sarawak. Private companies have already poured billions of dollars into new manufacturing plants at SCORE’s growth nodes to produce a variety of products ranging from aluminium ingots and silicone to pre-packaged processed food. To accommodate the rising throughput of trade needed to supply the plants with raw materials and other inputs, as well as provide an efficient means to export finished products across the globe, the government is erecting a brand new, purpose-built industrial port in the boomtown of Samalaju, situated along the northern area of the corridor.
Setting up on a 450-ha site set aside by the state, ground was broken on Samalaju Industrial Port in late 2012 with phase one of the RM1.8bn ($547.56m) project set to enter service in the second quarter of 2016. Upon completion, this phase will afford the port a berth capacity of 14m tonnes per annum (tpa), supported by three Handymax cranes serving one Handymax berth, suitable for cargo ships with a carrying capacity of 40,000-50,000 deadweight tonnes, according to the Regional Corridor Development Authority.
The second and third phases of production will be carried out as demand warrants, with phase two bringing an additional Handymax berth and another 4m tpa of capacity to the port, while the third phase comprises another Handymax crane and two berths, which will add a further 8m tonnes of annual capacity. When combined with interim roll-on/roll-off and barge berth capacity of 4m tpa, Samalaju Port’s total completed berth capacity is estimated at 30m tpa.
Not content to wait until this infrastructure is built, operator Bintulu Port Holdings (BPH) expeditiously completed rudimentary interim facilities in 2012 to cater both to the ongoing construction of the port as well as to serve the industrial plants already operating within SCORE. Facilities consist of two 160-metre-long wharves to service barges, as well as a roll-on/roll-off ramp designed to handle up to 4m tonnes of combined cargo per year, at a total coast of RM194m ($59m).
DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTS: The pace of development picked up in 2014, with BPH awarding two tender packages in September 2014 and another scheduled to be launched in early 2015. The two 2014 contracts were for the design, construction and completion of the conveyor system facilities awarded to Muhibbah Engineering for RM157m ($47.76m) within 22 months, along with a 21-month, RM40.4m ($12.29m) deal awarded to Samado to carry out the construction of an administrative building and associated works. The upcoming RM70m ($21.29m) package is for the supply of the last wharf’s unloading components, including a pneumatic suction loader and three units of level luffing cranes.
In addition to the port improvements, BPH also tendered out a project in September 2014 for the construction of a RM157m ($47.76m) conveyor system to transport raw materials from the port to the manufacturing plants in the nearby industrial park, according to statements made to the local press in October 2014 by BPH’s CEO, Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad.
Other port works in various stages of implementation include a RM437m ($133m) dredging and reclamation project, a breakwater and associated works project (RM306m, $93m), a wharf and associated works project (RM311.1m, $95m), and an electrical works and navigation aid system (RM47.53m, $15m). According to Ahmad, around 40% of the initial port construction had been finished as of October 2014, while BPH was aiming to handle between 1m and 3m tonnes of cargo annually in 2014 and 2015.
TANJUNG MANIS: A second port also began operations in 2009 at the far southern end of the SCORE region, which will cater to a different variety of industries. Situated along the coast of south-central Sarawak, the Tanjung Manis Industrial Port (TMIP) is located near the confluence of numerous major rivers that serve as transportation arteries to the state’s interior. From this location, Sarawak’s second deepwater port will serve as the primary gateway for both industrial activities taking place in and around SCORE’s Tanjung Manis Halal Hub (TMHH), which is set to house an array of food processing and other light industries, as well as handle international exports of goods such as timber and other agricultural commodities sourced upstream.
Owned and managed by parent company Sarawak Timber Industrial Development Company (STIDC), the port boasts an 11-metre draft alongside a single 203-metre-long berth, along with a 4.5-acre open storage yard and an 11-acre inland container depot capable of handling 1500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and other cargo. The Rajang Port Authority, which manages the Rajang Port located upstream at the inland trade hub of Sibu, was hired by TMIP to run its operations. The total maximum annual cargo capacity of TMIP is projected at 500,000 tonnes, while its container handling capacity rose from 40,000 TEUs to around 90,000 TEUs with the addition of two new 100-tonne capacity Gottwald mobile harbour cranes in 2012.
EXPANSION: But with container traffic exceeding its estimated limit in 2013 with 93,000 TEUs handled, according to the STIDC quarterly newsletter, further improvements are under way. The ongoing expansion and refurbishment project includes the extension of the wharf by 100 metres, the expansion of open storage space, administrative building and as well as an upgraded entrance and exit complex. Due to have been completed in March 2015, these and other improvements to be made over time as demand warrants are expected to more than double the existing container capacity to 220,000 TEU by 2018.
Increased investment in the TMHH and surrounding area continues to drive container traffic at the port as activity has grown two-fold since the port handled approximately 9000 TEUs in its inaugural 2009 year. Overall throughput in container trade rose from 60,854 TEUs in 2011 to 93,459 TEUs in 2012, representing a 53.6% increase and maxing out capacity. Similarly, vessel traffic rose by 39.3% from 643 vessel calls in 2011 to 896 vessel calls in 2012.
CARGO TRAFFIC RISES: In addition to the increased container traffic, the completion of the Oil Gas Chemical jetty and expanded handling of timber logs and products as well as coal caused a surge in general cargo traffic. According to the most recent data available from TMIP, the port handled 3.89m tonnes of cargo in 2012, more than triple the 1.162m tonnes handled in 2011 for an increase of 234.9%. Imports and exports rose by 370.4% and 2531.7%, respectively, while trans-shipment cargo grew by about 65%.
Although these levels remain well within the port’s capacity, future growth of the 77,000-ha TMHH should continue to boost demand for shipping and logistics services. As well as opportunities, this will bring challenges. “Issues facing Sarawak’s freight forwarding industries include lowering fuel costs, improving transportation infrastructure, widening roads and replacing ageing fleets of lorries. All of this will eventually lower the cost of transporting goods and services,” Ben Chong, director of Sarcargo Agencies, told OBG.
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