KUCHING: The Sarawak government wants to take back Bintulu Port from the Federal Government as part of strategies for the overall development of ports in the state, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Premier said the state government will hold discussions with Putrajaya to defederalise Bintulu Port so that it can be administered and further developed as a state port.
He said the implementation of port development strategies in Sarawak must include Bintulu Port, which should come under the state's jurisdiction.
"This will enable the state government to have a master plan for the development of all ports in Sarawak and to ensure each port plays its own role in the promotion of trade and businesses and to enhance shipping connectivity with other major global transportation and logistics hubs," Abang Johari said at Samalaju Industrial Port's 10th anniversary celebration in Bintulu on Monday (Jan 30) night.
Bintulu Port, which was declared a federal port through an Act passed in Parliament in 1978, became operational in 1981 to mainly serve the oil and gas industry.
On Jan 1, 1993, Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd was granted a concession to operate the port, in which the Sarawak government has 39.7% shares and PETRONAS and MISC Bhd together hold 30.8% shares.
Abang Johari said the state government wanted Bintulu Port to be part of a cluster of state ports under a Central Port Authority to be incorporated by state law.
He said the new Central Port Authority would streamline and coordinate the management, operation, planning and development of all ports in Sarawak.
"This authority will be able to ensure harmonisation of port tariffs and dues for all ports in Sarawak.
"Bintulu Port's tariffs have not been revised or increased since 1993 and are lower than those of state ports, thus diverting traffic from our state ports.
"This is against the recommendation of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) that there should be no discriminatory port dues and fees among ports in Sarawak that would have the effect of diverting trade and maritime traffic from any of the ports," he said.
Abang Johari also said the state government wanted to continue working with PETRONAS, as a major stakeholder of the port, to manage, operate and develop Bintulu Port.
He said both parties had a proven track record of managing and operating the port over the years.
"With the same commitment and good cooperation between the state and PETRONAS, Bintulu Port will have the opportunity of transformation towards becoming a major port or transportation hub in the Asia Pacific region," he said.
Abang Johari called on the shareholders, especially PETRONAS, to support the state's development initiative for Bintulu Port for their mutual benefit.
"I sincerely hope that the federal unity government fully understands the aspiration of the people of Sarawak to have Bintulu Port put under the purview of Sarawak’s administration," he added.