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Malaysia moving ahead with ‘game changer’ Carey Island mega-port

Photo: PKA K Subramaniam, General Manager, Port Klang Authority
The Malaysian government is pressing ahead with plans for massive greenfield terminal on Carey Island in Port Klang, the world’s 12th largest container port.

Plans for a fourth terminal at Port Klang on Carey Island date back to 2017 and are now moving ahead following a feasibility study.

The planned port project was flagged up by Malaysian Transport Minister YB Loke Siew Fook at the opening ceremony and reception of the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace 2023 exhibition (LIMA 2023). “One of the mega projects in the maritime sector is the proposed development of the Carey Island Port which could strengthen Port Klang’s status as the main marine hub for Southeast Asia,” the Minister said.

The RM28bn Carey Island port project would comprise both container and conventional berths capable of handing 30 million teu and 20 million tonnes of conventional cargo once fully developed.

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News on the sidelines of the International Maritime Conference at LIMA 2023 Capt. K Subramaniam, General Manager of Port Klang Authority (PKA), said, “It’s going to be a game changer”.

“We are looking at 15 km of berths, that is the whole of Port Klang today, that is the whole of Northport, Westport, and Southport is going to be translated into Carey.”

Port Klang currently comprises Westport and Northport, which are its main international terminals, and the smaller Southport dedicated to regional trade.

Unlike the linear berth structure of the existing terminals Subramanian said that Carey island’s terminals would be developed in a basin lay out. The vision would also be for it to be a “truly smart, digital, and green port”.

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The greenfield port plan is not dissimilar to Tuas Port under development in rival Singapore, although unlike Tuas Port the Carey Island project is not designed to replace existing terminals. There are three major container hubs serving the Southeast Asia in the Singapore and Malacca Straits – Port Klang, Port of Tanjung Pelepas, and Singapore – respectively the world’s 12th, 15th and second largest container ports.

PKA has completed a feasibility study on behalf of the government as to whether it can go ahead with developing Carey Island Port and Subramanian said it ticked about “90% of the boxes, and that looks good”.

There are though issues with weather and wave heights as the new port is further offshore than existing terminals and he said they may have to look at building breakwaters.

At present around 90% of Carey Island is palm oil plantation owned by Malaysian company Sime Darby, and is also home to the indigenous Mah Mari tribe, a sensitive issue which the authority is keenly aware of. Subramaniam said, “We are not going to displace them, that is the last thing we are going to do.”

The development of Carey Island Port is a long-term plan and Subramaniam said works were planned to start in 2025 with development taking place in phases all the way through to 2055.

In terms of the need for the new port he said, “Whatever we have developed has always been in line with the industry, this is going to be done in consultation with the industry.”

As to whether international terminal operators could be involved in Carey Island Port’s development the Malaysian government has currently indicated a preference towards domestic operators such as MMC and Westports. Subramaniam said this does not discount holding discussions with international terminal operators. “I think today is all about international collaboration.”

TAGS: Asia