Malaysia upgrading Sabah ports to drive growth

Malaysia’s Sabah ports are set to play a bigger role to cater to future needs and to drive the economy as the state government announced its commitment to develop port infrastructure and attract trades, reports said.

Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that the state’s main Sandakan port, which has long been the focus of trade, needs to get ready to cope with the growing needs of the area, following the recent opening of the port’s new jetty.

“In future we need a port with larger capacity. For Sandakan port our initiative is, among others, to cater to the needs and enable our trade to increase,” he was reported saying.

Seaborne trade between East Malaysia’s Sabah state and neighbouring countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and Japan is expected to grow.
“In future, when ships from outside come not only are there products from outside but also products from Sabah to be exported, this is important,” he said, adding that this includes opportunities from the tourism market.

Development should also happen for Kudat port in the northern tip of Sabah, where there are plans to create a railway route from Kudat to the state capital Kota Kinabula to facilitate the passage of freight forwarding.

Sabah Ports chairman Tan Sri Ibrahim Menudin was quoted saying: “Sandakan port is an important gateway for the state economic development because of its role in accelerating the economic activity in the east coast of Sabah.”

In view of this, he said the need to expand the anchorage area for big trading vessels at Sandakan port has been identified.


Sandakan port handles almost all types of cargoes including containers, general cargoes, bulk oils, passenger ships to ferry services and transhipment activities. The port operates roughly 44m tonnes of cargo a year.

Ibrahim said developments at Sandakan port is under the Port Masterplan which includes development of other ports such as Sepanggar, Lahad Datu and Tawau.

“Ports in Sabah were built over the last 30 to 40 years. Therefore, there is a need to upgrade and enhance port efficiency, as well as support Green Port initiatives to promote the use of state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure to meet the growing demands of port users and shipping ships,” he said.

Posted 25 February 2019

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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