BINTULU (Jan 30): The Sarawak government is intent on taking back control of Bintulu Port from the federal government as part of the state’s overall port development strategies, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
In his speech at the 10th anniversary dinner of Samalaju Industrial Port (SIPSB) at a leading hotel here last night, Abang Johari said the Sarawak government would be in discussion with Putrajaya to discontinue Bintulu Port as a federal facility.
“This is so that Bintulu Port can be administered and further developed as a state port in accordance with the strategies drawn up for ports in Sarawak.
“The implementation of these development strategies for all ports in Sarawak therefore must include Bintulu Port which should come under the jurisdiction of the state, as a state port,” he said.
He pointed out this would enable the state government to have a masterplan for the development of all ports in Sarawak and to ensure each port plays its own special role in the promotion of trade and businesses.
He added this will also enhance shipping connectivity with other major global transportation and logistics hubs.
As such, the premier said the Sarawak government wants Bintulu Port to be part of a cluster of state ports, under a Central Port Authority which would be incorporated by state law.
“This new Central Port Authority will streamline and coordinate the management, operation, planning and development of all ports located in the state.
“This Authority will be able to ensure harmonisation of port tariffs and dues for all ports in Sarawak. Bintulu Port’s tariffs have not been revised or increased since 1993, and are lower than those of state ports, thus diverting traffic from our state ports.
“This is against the recommendation of the IGC (Inter-Governmental Committee) that there should be no discriminatory port dues and fees amongst the ports in Sarawak that would have the effect of diverting trade and maritime traffic from any of the ports,” he told the audience at the dinner.
He pointed out the state government would like to continue working with Petronas, as a major stakeholder of the port, to manage, operate and undertake the development of Bintulu Port.
Such cooperation, he explained, is for the advancement of both parties’ strategic business interests, the attainment of sustainable development goals, to better serve the hinterland and other stakeholders and ensure its continued growth and success.
“The state government and Petronas have a proven track record of successfully managing and operating Bintulu Port over the years. With the same commitment and good cooperation between the state and Petronas, Bintulu Port will have the opportunity of transformation towards becoming a major port or transportation hub in the Asia Pacific region.
He called on the shareholders, especially Petronas, and the Board of Directors and management of Bintulu Port Holdings Berhad (BPHB), to support this key development initiative for the mutual benefits of all parties involved.
Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd (BPSB) was granted a concession on Jan 1, 1993 for the operation of the port in which the Sarawak government has 39.7 per cent shares and Petronas and MISC Berhad together hold 30.8 per cent shares, totalling 70.5 per cent of BPHB’s issued shares which are listed on Bursa Malaysia.
Dwelling at length on the formation of Bintulu Port, Abang Johari said it ought to be noted that on Malaysia Day, there was no federal port here or anywhere in Sarawak.
“In 1978, Parliament passed the Declaration of An Area in Bintulu District as a Federal Port Act (Act 217).
“This Act was passed without the mandatory request from the State Legislature of Sarawak as required under Article 76(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.
“With the enactment of Act 217, Bintulu Port was declared a federal port. Parliament then passed the Bintulu Port Authority Act, 1981 to constitute the Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) whose functions were to build, control, administer and regulate Bintulu Port.”
Touching on the 10th anniversary of SIPSB, the premier expressed gratitude to the company for building, managing and operating the port primarily to serve the industries at the Samalaju industrial zone.
For the year 2022, SIPSB has reported operating revenues of RM164.6 million and cargo throughput of 6.6 million tonnes.
Fully operational since 2017, the port is projected to handle over 10 million tonnes of cargo by 2030 in tandem with the steady growth of heavy industries at Samalaju.
The total cost for the development of the port was RM1.71 billion including dredging of navigational channels and breakwaters.