Floating deep-sea entrepot to turn Malacca into nautical hub

MALACCA: The state will soon control the key waterway of the Straits of Malacca, which links shipping routes between Asia and Europe, with the construction of a floating deep-sea entrepot close to its shores.

A renowned public-listed foreign construction company has agreed to inject RM12bil for the first phase of the harbour facility. The entire multi-billion ringgit project that will be developed in three phases is expected to be fully completed by 2025.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said the first phase of the entrepot is expected to be completed by 2020 and the remaining phases within the following five years.

“The construction company is a giant and well-known globally, but I can’t divulge the details for now as it must come from the company itself,” he said recently.

The project materialised after China’s Guangdong province signed a memorandum of understanding on Sept 21 in Putrajaya on the establishment of a State and Provincial Friendship and Cooperation.

Guangdong has also pledged fiscal commitment to construct an international seaport to turn Malacca into a top nautical hub in this region and at par with Singapore.

Idris said the economic spin-off from the entrepot is anticipated to be great and the state will work on mechanisms to generate income for the state through sales of power and utility to the harbour facility.

“Apart from this, the state would also benefit from tourism when crew members of shipping companies visit when the ships dock here,” he said.

Idris noted that in a study compiled by the Nippon Maritime Centre using data from the Marine Department of Malaysia, 79,344 transits by vessels were recorded along the straits in 2014. On average, 217 vessels per day transited the waterway last year, up from 201 in 2011.

According to the report, container ships, bulk carriers and oil tankers traffic were the largest users of the Straits of Malacca.

China will also benefit from the offshore harbour facility as it would reduce the risk of tankers taking the Lombok Straits to reach South China Sea due to heavy traffic along the Straits of Malacca.

The vast majority of China’s oil imports pass through the Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda maritime corridor.

A tiny portion of Pulau Panjang, located about four nautical miles from the coast of Pulau Melaka, has been earmarked for the floating entrepot that will link Europe and China.

The entire project will occupy a reclaimed area spanning 272.8ha, and a bridge will connect it to the existing Melaka Gateway project.

It is expected to overtake Singapore Ports as the busiest harbour.

The entrepot is a gift to Malacca from China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who expressed Chinese interest for its construction companies to construct the proposed harbour, with facilities to transfer oil and cargo to other ships and to the mainland through underwater pipelines.

Li, who visited Malacca in November, was impressed with the harmony and diversity and has encouraged more China companies to invest in the state.

Idris said four reputable Chinese construction companies are in the run to construct the floating entrepot.

He said the man-made structure will shelter a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, thus enabling safe anchorage including loading of cargo.

“It would be an architectural wonder and engineering marvel , as the port will be supported by underwater beams and its length could accommodate the landing of an Airbus A320,” said Idris.

He said the Malaysian Maritime Agencies and Malacca Port Authority will fully manage the entrepot.

Floating deep-sea entrepot to turn Malacca into top nautical hub

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