MIRI, Mar 2: Miri Port needs urgent dredging without which it will become a white elephant after a few years.
Infrastructure Development and Transportation (MIDT) Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said Miri Port is facing a grave siltation problem as an inland port.
“At low tide, the Baram River access canal is only 1.5 metres deep while the deepest point is only three to five metres during hide tide.
“This is too shallow for ocean-going ships to come in. This in turn limits the usage of Miri Port where it is now operating only at 30 per cent of its full capacity,” said Masing while attending Miri Port’s 35th Anniversary celebration at a local hotel here this evening.
He added that the shipping industry activity within the port area has been drastically reduced as new ships built cannot get out.
“There is, therefore, urgent need for works to dredge the canal up to eight metres deep,” said Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister.
However, he pointed out that the allocation of RM750 million promised by the federal government for the dredging works was not yet available.
“Unless this is done within the next few years, the RM250 million Miri port will become a white elephant,” Masing warned.
He said his ministry is now studying the proposals of two dredging companies where the one with the most suitable technology know-how, port managing experience and strong financials will be chosen for the job.
The dredging of the canal, he added, was only Phase 1 to improve Miri Port. Phase 2 would involve the creation of a seaport, about 6 kilometres into the sea which will allow sea-faring vessels to berth. The depth will be no less than 20 metres.
“The proposed seaport will create huge business potential for Miri and its hinterland. MIDT hopes to award the dredging job this year so that work on Phase 1 can commence,” said Masing. — DayakDaily