PETALING JAYA: While a bridge between Malacca and Dumai, Indonesia, could be a catalyst for economic growth, the Maritime Institute of Malaysia is concerned about its effects to shipping, safety and the environment.
According to maritime analyst Nazery Khalid, there are grounds to be concerned over how the bridge will affect the smooth passage of ships through the Straits of Malacca, which is one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
“Ships would have to slow down when sailing through the construction site and traversing under the bridge to avoid collision with the structures.
“This may also affect their sailing schedules, to the detriment of the supply chains and the interests of stakeholders such as ports, businesses, industries and consumers,” said Nazery, who was among a team of experts from the institute who conducted a study on the subject four years ago.
Nazery was responding to the plan to revive the project, which was first mooted in 1995, and then again in 2006.
On Tuesday, Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron raised the idea again, which he claimed was discussed during the 10th Chief Ministers and Governors’ Forum (CMGF) of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) at Koh Samui, Thailand, on Sept 12.
The 2009 Mima study entitled “A Bridge Too Far? An Analysis of the Proposed Bridge Across the Straits of Malacca From a Maritime Perspective” stated that the shipping community was not comfortable with the increase of transit time through the straits, while the slower speed could increase the risk of being attacked by pirates.
The report also stated that such a massive project would adversely affect coastal ecosystems on both ends of the bridge.
Vital nesting areas for hawksbill turtles on the Malaysian side near Padang Kemunting (near Tanjung Bidara) could also be affected, along with other marine life, as well as the coastal tourism industry.
The report also stated the 2004 earthquake that hit Sumatra, triggering the massive tsunami, served as warning about the safety of the bridge.
“One shudders to think of the effects of a bridge collapse on the marine environment and also the economy of the region,” said Nazery, who was speaking in his personal capacity.
Idris said the details of 48.69km-long bridge linking Teluk Gong in Malacca to Dumai, Sumatra, would be revealed when all mechanisms were in place.
The bridge would be the world’s longest, even without including a 71.2km-long highway to be built between Dumai and Pulau Rupat on the Indonesian side.