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Malaysia’s giant $45bn new port put on hold in wake of liner alliance shuffle

Malaysia’s giant $45bn new port put on hold in wake of liner alliance shuffle

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With volumes at its premier ports slumping on the back of this year’s container alliance switches Malaysia has decided to put on hold a huge port development plan at Carey Island.

Port Klang – and its two terminals Westports and Northport – has seen much traffic switch to Singapore in the wake of the reshuffle of global liner alliances on April 1 this year.

MMC Corp, which runs the Malaysian Port of Tanjung Pelepas, had planned to partner India’s Adani Ports and local state-backed Sime Darby in a multi-billion dollar port project at Carey Island.

“With the government giving Klang rival Westports approval to double its capacity, the push for a third port in Klang is on the backburner,” a source told Singapore’s Straits Times.

Dr Jonathan Beard, one of Asia’s most respected ports experts and the head of transportation and logistics in Asia for consultants Arcadis, told Splash in September: “The vast majority of proposed new capacity in Southeast Asia is targeted at the regional transhipment market – there is only so much demand to go around, and a limited number of liner alliances that determine hub strategy and those hubs are not easily moved.”

Malaysian ports find themselves in a fight for boxes with Singapore, where a giant new 65m teu capacity port is under construction at Tuas, to the west of the republic.

Westports currently operates eight adjacent terminals with a ninth due onstream soon which will give the port an annual design capacity of 13.5m teu.

Westports has laid out plans another 10 terminals through to 2040.

“The timing for this and other proposed Malacca Straits developments is critical – as and when needed, or significantly ahead of demand?” Arcadis’s Beard commented.

Westports is one of two at Port Klang. Northport is the other one, another facility that has been ramping up infrastructure in recent years.

The Port Klang Authority (PKA) had been touting the development of a $45bn new terminal complex on Carey Island for the past couple of years.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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