‘Malaysian port operators must keep boosting efficiency to survive’

The way for Malaysian ports to survive the changing landscape in the region is to ensure they remain transhipment centres and keep on increasing their efficiency to keep cost low, Westports Holdings Executive Chairman, G Gnanalingam was quoted as saying in local media.

Gnanalingam added that he was not too worried about the developments in the region as long as the port keeps improving its level of efficiency and reduces the cost to ship out the boxes.

“We will remain relevant as long as we continue to be a transhipment hub. The efficiency also has to keep improving to reduce the cost of business for the shippers,” he said.

Westports’ efficiency of 35 gross moves per hour (mph) is above the industry’s average of 25 gross mph, Gnanalingam added. As of last year, Westports commanded 76% of Port Klang’s volume. Port Klang has climbed up the world’s busiest port chart to 12th place last year from 35th in 1990.

On the region’s port development, Gnanalingam noted that Singapore recently launched the construction of the first phase of a mega port in Tuas that will eventually have a capacity to handle 65million TEU a year.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo recently launched the New Priok Container Terminal 1 in Kalibaru, the first of five phases of an expansion of Priok port that are to be completed in 2019. The new terminal adds 1.5million TEU to Priok’s existing 7million TEU annual capacity.

Going forward, Westports will continue to expand with container terminal 8 (CT8) by next year and will then continue with container terminal 9 (CT9).

“By the time we complete CT9, our capacity will be around 15million TEU. Capacity building and efficiency are the way to go in this supply-driven industry. We have to build the infrastructure first,” said Gnanalingam.

By the end of next year, when CT8 is fully completed, Westports’ total capacity will rise to 13.5million TEU. As of now, Phase 1 of CT8 expansion with 300metres of wharf has commenced operations with the addition of four units of new state-of-the-art 52metres high ship-to-shore cranes and six units of energy-efficient rubber tyred gantry cranes.

The construction of an additional terminal, CT9, will depend on Westports’ rate of growth, he said. The port operator handled 9.1million TEU for 2015, achieving a total utilisation rate of 83%.

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