KOTA KINABALU: Talks are ongoing to reignite efforts to link Port Klang and the POIC (Palm Oil Industrial Cluster) Lahad Datu Port in Sabah’s east coast.
A high-level delegation from Northport Malaysia, the operator of one of Malaysia’s busiest ports at Klang in Selangor, were in the state for a four-day visit since last week to restart the talks with top managers of POIC Sabah.
Northport and POIC Sabah first came together in 2019 premised on the prospects of undertaking joint business development, linking Port Klang with Lahad Datu, halal goods trade and supply chain dynamics between Southern Philippines and Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The Covid-19 pandemic delayed progress until recently.
Northport chief executive officer Datuk Azman Shah Mohd Yusof and his delegation had met with the POIC Sabah team led by its deputy chief executive officer Lynette Hoo here on Jan 27.
Besides Azman, the delegation consisted of Northport general manager (terminal operations) Fakhrul Azhat Tajudin, Mohd Tahir Mohd Azis (acting head, facilities) and Nadiatul Hajar Md Rasip (assistant manager, finance).
The site visit was the first for the visitors since both sides came in contact.
In between officers kept up with dialogue to firm up aspects of business to move forward from the initial Strategic Collaboration Agreement signed between the two parties in 2019.
The visit culminated in a visit to the POIC Lahad Datu on Monday (Jan 30).
State-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd is developing POIC Lahad Datu which is being promoted as a future logistics hub for the east Asean territories collectively known as the Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga).
According to a statement by POIC Sabah, the Northport team likened the Sabah east coast’s strategic location as a place where bees are drawn to honey, with the wide business potentials were drawing growing interest.
Complementing this was the well-developed POIC Lahad Datu industrial park and its comprehensive port infrastructure featuring dedicated terminals for dry bulk, liquid bulk and container cargo, as well as anticipated economic spin-offs from the establishment of Nusantara, Indonesia’s upcoming new national capital in East Kalimantan.
Alluding to the potential of the Lombok-Makassar shipping route and its relevance to POIC Lahad Datu, Azman said the key was in "connecting the dots" by consolidating ports, resources and cargo in the region in Bimp-Eaga.
He shared the vision of POIC Lahad Datu as a logistics hub for the region because the world was looking to POIC Lahad Datu as the gateway to Nusantara and the surrounding territories.
Meanwhile, Hoo said that while both parties weighed on aspects of collaboration that could conclude in formal agreement, POIC Sabah valued its exposure to Northport by virtue of its global recognition, organisation and maturity.
The Northport International Centre of Excellence (NICE) and its extensive port- and maritime-related training and compliance programmes were especially relevant to POIC Lahad Datu as it moves to consolidate its position as a logistics hub for Bimp-Eaga, she added.
POIC Lahad Datu Port was declared and launched as a public port in 2022.
Northport is part of the public-listed MMC Group, a leading utilities and infrastructure group in Malaysia. It breaches the 10mil freight weight tonne threshold last year as well as 3.3mil TEUs (twenty-foot containers).