MALAYSIAN ports require investment of a further RM4bil to increase capacity and to have sufficiently trained staff to cater for the additional volume, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik.
During the Federation of Ma- laysian Port Operating Companies (FMPOC) golf/dinner in Seri Kem- bangan in Selangor yesterday Ling said that Malaysian ports had grown from handling 1% of world trade to 3%.
Soon there will be 300 million boxes in the world and we must strive to achieve at least 4% if not 5% of this volume, which is 15 million boxes. To achieve this, we need to invest RM4bil more to increase our terminal capacity and ensure we have trained staff to move the additional volume, he said.
Ling said the government was fully aware of the financial situation and needs of the members of the logistics chain.
Malaysia today has the lowest port charges, low haulier charges, and even lower freight rates.
We are aware of the financial strain experienced by the shipping lines, the port operators and the hauliers, and the bearing this will have on the efficiency of all of you. Most of all, we are aware of the need for financial viability to be able to sustain port development, to remain supply driven, and to continue to improve services, he said.
A significant development last year was that Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) had to undertake a total review of its positioning and cost structure to remain competitive with other Asean ports.
This year, PSA would be even more determined, not only to retain customers, but also to seek further growth, he added.
According to Ling, despite these challenges the government remains confident that port operators and members of the logistics chain would continue to do well over the next five years with appropriate support from the government.
He said Malaysian ports handled only 2.5 million boxes in 1995 but today handle 9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). In 1995, they had only 20% of the volume handled by Singapore, but today handle almost 60% of Singapore's volume.
If we can swing a further four million boxes (our way), we will probably handle more boxes than Singapore. Of even greater significance is that 50% of this volume relates to transshipment boxes, which signifies that major shipping lines are now prepared to use our ports for transshipment. We basically handle cargo belonging to other countries today, Ling said.
Most of all, Port Klang has improved from the 26th position to 12th in the last two years and PTP will soon be within the top 20 in the world.