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Kuching port to get boost from channel dredging

Kuching port to get boost from channel dredging
Sarawak state capital Kuching will get a boost for its port from a MYR360m ($88.9m) Malaysian federal government-funded dredging project which will open up all-tide access to the Pending Terminal at Kuching Port, local reports said.

The project, to be budgeted under the current 11th Malaysia Plan, will cover a 13nm-long stretch of silted Sarawak River from the access point to the sea at Tanjung Po to Kuching Port's Pending Terminal. The Sarawak River has never been dredged before and has gradually silted up over the years.

According to Kuching Port Authority (KPA) general manager Rosli Saup, the proposed dredging works, which are expected to take 24 months, would increase the draught of the access channel to 9m, from the current 4.5m. Most cargo vessels currently need to wait for high tide to gain access to the port, he added.

Rosli noted that it would also pave the way for larger cargo vessels and cruise ships from Peninsular Malaysia and Asian countries to call directly at the Pending Terminal.

Initial work will begin this year, with MYR50m set aside for an environmental impact assessment study and hydraulic study to be carried out, among other preparatory works. The marine department has been asked to submit a “needs statement” on the project. Dredging work has been slated to commence later this year.

For the project to go ahead, the Sarawak authorities are required to fund the maintenance of the dredged channel. This is expected to be met by imposing a new tariff known as the Channel Maintenance Fee of MYR1 per tonne of cargo/passengers within its limit area since 1 June following the gazetting of Kuching Port Authority (Dues, Rates & Charges) (Amendments) Regulations 2016, Rosli said. The fee only applies to import and export cargoes.

Rosli said he expected the fee to generate revenue of between MYR9m and MYR10m a year, which will go towards the maintenance cost of the dredged channel.