Westport to upgrade capacity


By YAP LIH HUEY

PORT KLANG: KELANG Multi Terminal Sdn Bhd, the operator of Westport Malaysia, will commit US$200mil over the next three to four years for upgrading port capacity and efficiency in a move to facilitate changing trends in the shipping industry.  

Westport also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority yesterday to reinforce its sister-port relationship. 

The MoU would pave way for shared information, experiences and technological expertise to expedite shipments from Port of Colombo to Westport.  

“Almost all ships from Europe go to Port of Colombo first before they come to us. This partnership will help both parties expedite shipments by leveraging on communications between Colombo, Port Klang and Westport’’ said Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, Westport executive chairman.  

The MoU, which was first established in 1998, is renewable every five years. 

Since then, both ports have promoted business transactions and relations with each other.  

Gnanalingam, however, declined to give projections on how this partnership would affect its container volume and profitability for this year.  

He was speaking at a media conference after signing a MoU with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority represented by its chairman Parakrama Dissanayake. 

Also present was the Sri Lankan minister of ports development and shipping Rauf Hakeem. 

Hakeem said: “We are at the formative stages of exchanging information and we will take a look at the facilities here and will share some ideas among us and take it from there.” 

Both Evergreen and Maersk-Sealand had exclusively committed their future and current container volume for two years at Port of Colombo, which would benefit Westport's container handling business in the long run. 

“There are four operators in the world that control 50% of the world cargoes, namely Hutchison, PSA, PNO and Maersk-Sealand.” Gnanalingam said he saw a collective deal for Westport by partnering with large shipping operators. 

Port of Colombo, the largest in Sri Lanka, handled 1.75 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) last year.  

Last year Westport handled 1.3 million TEUs, up from 837,000 TEUs in 2001.  

On its US$200mil investment, Gnanalingam said it would include, among others, the development of 2,400 metres of berth length, 400 acres of yard and purchases of new facilities and equipments.  

The first 600 metres of berth would be completed by June next year.  

Westport had purchased 1,000 acres in Pulau Indah for development of a halal-hub distribution park. Operations of the park would start in four years time. 

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