Shipbuilding to expand

SSA chairman Ngieng Ping Sing (right) handing over the new committee list to Wong (left)

SSA chairman Ngieng Ping Sing (right) handing over the new committee list to Wong (left)

SIBU: The state government has approved an area of 100ha for the expansion of the Rantau Panjang Industrial Estate, especially for shipbuilding and ship repairs.

International Trade and E-commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said this at the Sibu Shipyards Association’s (SSA) installation ceremony for its new committee.

He said the state government had also designated land in Tanjung Manis and Paloh to expand the shipbuilding industry.

“The deep waters in Tanjung Manis and Paloh would enable larger vessels as well as offshore platforms to be built there,” he added.

Under ongoing efforts to improve the infrastructure of the Rantau Panjang Industrial Estate, upgrading work had commenced on Jan 3 costing RM10.7mil.

Once completed in early 2019, it would resolve the poor drainage that had caused blockages and flooding, said Wong.

“There are about 100 shipyards nationwide, of which 68 are in Sarawak.

“Out of these 68 shipyards, 42 are in Sibu.

“Therefore, Sibu can rightly claim to be the heartland of the industry in the country,” he said.

Wong said the government wanted the industry to continue to play a role in the economic development of the state.

“Today, Sarawak is capable of building various types of vessels such as offshore support vessels, bulkers, barges, tugboats and passenger boats.

“These vessels are of international standard and are exported to countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Solomon Island, Brunei Darussalam, Papua New Guinea, Middle East, United States and Australia,” he added.

Wong pointed out that in 2016, the state exported RM376.5mil worth of vessels while in 2017, exports reached RM357.8mil.

Recently, Vitawani Sdn Bhd, a member of SSA, had successfully delivered a landing craft “King Islander 2” to the Tasmanian Port Corporation, Australia.

The 80m craft cost US$8mil (RM31.3mil) which was proof of the industry’s expertise and capabilities, he noted.

Wong called on SSA members to continue working with the government to ensure the growth of the industry.