KUANTAN: The expansion of the Kuantan Port in Gebeng here is vital as it will form part of the upcoming East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) “land bridge”, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
He said Kuantan was a very important city in the east coast with many business and industrial activities located here.
“Once the ECRL is completed, it will form a land bridge connecting Port Klang to Kuantan Port.
“As Kuantan faces the South China Sea, this is very important if we want to shorten the travel time to Korea, Japan and China. There will be no need to go through the Straits of Malacca and around the peninsula,” Dr Wee said after his visit to Kuantan Port on Sunday (Jan 16).
He said cargo handling at the port had shown encouraging growth before the pandemic although it dropped by 16.2% with 22.9 million tonnes handled last year.
“This is compared to 2020 which had 27.3 million tonnes in cargo handled. But when we look at the growth in 2019, it showed an increase of 4.5%.
“There is high potential here and it will require strategic planning,” he said.
He added that the Kuantan Port Consortium and the state government were attracting potential investors to the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and if this was finalised, further expansions would be necessary.
“These investments will bring about high imports and exports of raw materials and completed products. That is why we have to prepare now.
“I have also been informed that the state government has a special development plan for Gebeng, with MCKIP and its surrounding areas connected to the port. It will surely have a high impact for locals,” he said.
Asked if there were any plans to bring in cruise liners to Kuantan Port, Dr Wee said the focus was on the main activity of the port besides other factors to consider such as the east coast’s exposure to monsoons.
During his visit, Dr Wee also launched Kuantan Port’s 2021-2030 green policy.
He said among other initiatives, the port was already using hybrid rubber tyred gantry cranes and also controlling the number of vehicles entering the port to reduce the impact on the environment.
In a Facebook post Dr Wee said he had inspected Kuantan Port’s original KP1 service terminal as well as KP2, which will be expanded with a 1km deep water terminal in Phase Two of the port’s expansion plan.
“It is exciting to see the Port’s further development as a major component of the East Coast industrial hub of Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and Gebeng Industrial Park (GIP).
“With the expansion of the port, we hope to raise the handling capacity of Kuantan Port from about 27 million tonnes of cargo per year in 2020 to 50 million tonnes of cargo,” Dr Wee said after his official visit to the port on Sunday (Jan 16).
He said under a further Phase Three expansion, which is a reclamation process for a new breakwater and terminal, the port’s yearly container capacity should increase to between 70 and 90 million tonnes, the MCA president said.