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Bigger role for Sabah’s ports: CM

SANDAKAN: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the State Government is committed to developing ports in Sabah by taking into account future needs. This includes Sandakan Port which has long been the focus of trade. “I am delighted that a new jetty is now ready and will allow us to cope with the growing needs of this area,” he told a media conference after opening the port’s new jetty, Thursday. He said not only with neighbouring countries like the Philippines and Indonesia but also China and Japan, adding that this is a step forward as a mid-term effort. “In future we need a port with larger capacity. For Sandakan Port our initiative is, among others, to cater to the needs and enable our trade to increase,” he said.

“In future, when ships from outside come not only are there products from outside but also products from Sabah to be exported, this is important,” he said, adding that this includes the presence of potential tourist vessels brought to Sandakan and tourists visiting interesting places here. At the same time, he wants the Minister of Tourism to take a role in this regard, including thinking of what can be upgraded to beautify the district such as Sepilok and the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, among others. The same goes for the development of ports across Sabah, including Kudat. In the planning is a proposal to create a railway route from Kudat to the State capital to facilitate the passage of freight forwarding. Also present were Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Commerce and Industry Datuk Seri Madius Tangau, Minister of Health and People’s Wellbeing Datuk Stephen Wong, Chairman of Suria Capital Holdings Berhad cum Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd Chairman Tan Sri Ibrahim Menudin, among others. Shafie said the Government not only wants to develop the port sector but also various sectors with existing initiatives. “We have identified the Sandakan Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC Sandakan) as the centre for existing furniture. And I am streamlining with Yayasan Sabah and the State Forestry Department to assist the timber industry in Sabah,” he said. “Not only in the field of plywood but also furniture. But furniture will take a bit of time. “I have met with major industry players like those in Kota Kinabalu, among them Super Wood and Borneo Benar which not only produce domestic and foreign needs but also export to Maldives and Sri Lanka,” he said. “I am confident it can create many job opportunities like Super Wood, which has employees comprising locals who live near the factory.

“The same goes for the industry in Sepanggar like KKIP with its glass industry, in Sipitang with the downstream fertiliser and other potential in other districts.” Meanwhile, Ibrahim said the building cost of the pier is RM129.4 million and took 24 months to complete. “The new pier is an important landmark for the construction of port infrastructure especially in Sandakan and the State to increase the efficiency of port services and facilitate trade and investment in Sabah. “Sandakan Port is an important gateway for the State economic development because of its role in accelerating the economic activity in the east coast of Sabah,” he said. In view of this, he said the need to expand the anchorage area for big trading vessels at Sandakan Port has been identified. Sandakan Port has increased actively and is the second largest contributor to the earning of Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd after Sepanggar Port. The port is not only dependent on palm oil but also become the gateway to travellers and passengers from the southern Philippines. The port handles almost all types of cargoes comprising containers, general cargoes, bulk oils, passenger ships to ferry services and transhipment activities to carry the services and conduct transhipment activities. It consistently operates roughly 4.4 million tonnes of cargo a year.

Ibrahim said the project is among the company’s effort to upgrade port development as stated in the Port Masterplan, which also includes other ports such as Sepanggar, Lahad Datu and Tawau ports. “Ports in Sabah were built over the last 30 to 40 years. Therefore, there is a need to upgrade and enhance port efficiency, as well as support Green Port initiatives to promote the use of state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure to meet the growing demands of port users and shipping ships,” he said. He said Suria Capital, as a public company and Government-Linked Company in Sabah, plays a significant role in assisting the State Government provide a sustainable port service through its subsidiary, Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd. He said during the concession period since 2004, Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd has assisted the State Government to reduce port infrastructure spending by more than RM1 billion.  – Mardinah Jikur

Source: Daily Express | Feb 22, 2019