Malaysia-China JV wins RM209mil Miri Port job

Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: A joint venture (JV) between Malaysian and Chinese companies has been awarded a RM208.9mil contract to dredge the access shipping channel to Miri Port terminal and construct training bunds in the Batang Baram Delta.

Rimbun Prima Sdn Bhd and China Communications Con-struction Company (M) Sdn Bhd joint venture (JV) had signed the contract with Miri Port Authority. The contract period is 33 months for project’s scheduled completion in March 2027.

The two 6km training bunds to be built will allow for effective flushing of the dredged channel, according to Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who witnessed the contract signing ceremony.

He said the concept of deepening the access channel and the construction of training bunds had been applied in many parts of the world, including Rotterdam in the Netherlands; Miami, the United States; Adelaide, Australia; and Shanghai, China.

“In fact, some 22 years ago, Shanghai riverine ports faced similar problems like Kuala Baram delta, with shallow water depth and prohibitive maintenance exercise.

“With training bunds built since 2002 involving a total length of over 120km, the navigation depth at Shanghai access channel has been maintained and has enhanced port operations,” added Uggah, also Sarawak Infra-structure and Port Development Minister.

Miri Port, which started operations in 1983, is an important feeder port that links Sarawak’s northern region to the rest of the world. The port is located strategically within the Kuala Baram Industrial Estate.

However, the port has for a long time been handicapped by a relatively shallow channel due to siltation at the mouth of Baram River, thereby rendering the port inaccessible to larger cargo vessels to call at.

According to Miri Port Authority chairman Datuk Paulus Palu Gumbang, the shallow access channel to Miri Port terminal at the Batang Baram Delta has caused severe navigational safety hazards and stifled the growth of industries operating at the Kuala Baram Industrial Estate.

He said that at low tide, access channel depth at the delta is about 0.7 metres actual chart danum (ACD) and at high tide is only three metres ACD, restricting deeper drafted vessels of more than three metres to call at the port terminal.

This problem, said Gumbang, has caused double-handling costs, high operating costs, vessels’ delays, longer vessel’s turnaround time and unreliable shipping schedules.

And in many instances, vessels had been grounded at the delta, thereby posing navigational risks and hazards to them and other maritime-related activities in the area.

He said the project would bring about tremendous growth to the various economic activities in Miri, particularly the shipbuilding, wood-based, oil and gas; and other sectors like tourism, thereby providing employment opportunities to the locals.

“The provision of the deeper access channel will enable Miri Port to realise its designed capacity of handling 3.5 million tonnes of cargo per annum, and improve its image and competitiveness with the abolition of shipping surcharge, with vessels able to call directly at the port terminal,” added Gumbang.

In 2022, Miri Port’s total cargo throughput fell by 13% to 585,008 tonnes from 674,200 tonnes in 2021.

The port handled 18,467 20-ft equivalent units (TEUs) for the year compared to 22,148 TEUs in 2021. It also handled petroleum and timber (logs) cargoes.

Uggah said the construction of the bunds in deep water of over 25 metres will allow Kuala Baram to be a strategic and suitable location to develop a deep sea port.

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Miri , port , joint venture , logistrics , transport


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