Wednesday, September 30

Port seeks solution to maintain water levels

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MIRI: The Miri Port Authority has submitted a proposal to the state government for a detailed study to find the most cost effective solution in maintaining acceptable navigable water levels at the Baram River mouth.The answer to keeping the river mouth passable to deep draft ships along would be known this year.

Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the success of keeping the draft level of 4.5 metres at the new Miri River mouth indicated that a permanent solution is possible.

“The proposal has been submitted for state cabinet approval and the detailed studies would have to be completed this year for the project to be included in the 10th Malaysia Plan starting next year,” he said.

The biggest limitation to fulfilling the true potential of Miri Port in Kuala Baram, said Lee, is the shallow draft at the river mouth which is about three metres during high tide, hindering the passage of bigger cargo ships along this stretch.

The draft level at the port and river is over eight metres and Lee said the main thing is finding the best solution.

“Dredging seems to be out, while the other possibilities include building a new channel or better technologies in the market, but the consultant would have to come up with a detailed study first.

“The bottom line is it must be effective in cost, and cost-effective in future maintenance and dredging is unlikely due to heavy sedimentation,” he explained after witnessing the signing of a strategic alliance agreement between Quantumtrac Vehicle Tracking System ( QVTS), MPA and Silicon Navigator Sdn Bhd at a hotel here yesterday.

The Ministry of Transport has allocated RM100 million for the improvement of the passageway for bigger cargo vehicles to berth at Miri Port.

Lee said resolving the shallow draft problem will pave the way for a more robust economy and the development of Miri.

He pointed out that the case study of the heavy sedimentation at the old Miri River mouth which was resolved with a new channel that is relatively free from this problem indicates that the Baram River mouth woes could be resolved.

MPA general manager Shebli Harani said presently, only the shallow stretch at the delta is the main obstacle, as beyond it are contours of water depth up to 20 to 25 metres.

Meanwhile, Lee commended MPA for the quantum leap towards upgrading it’s legacy system since 1989, through e-Port community, which resulted in improved efficiency of overall logistic supply chain and cost savings of the port, shipping agents and port users.

The introduction of the vehicle and assets tracking system this year with Silicon would further improve logistic operations and cost savings and resonates with the connectivity-government’s (C-Government) aspiration to enhance connectivity between government to business (G2B) and between businesses (B2B).

In her speech, MPA chairperson Rosey Yunus said the port must gear itself to compete on level ground with other operators in the industry, and QVTS is part of efforts to provide value for money services to its customers.

Shebli and Rosey represented MPA, while Silicon Navigators Sdn Bhd CEO Bhajan Kaur and Sarawak Information Systems CEO Teo Tien Hiong signed the strategic alliance agreement, witnessed by Lee, heads of government departments and agencies as well as MPA customers.