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Westports Drives Malaysian Gateway

14 MARCH 2008 - Port Klang continued to maintain its position as one of the top ports in Southeast Asia last year with volumes hitting 7.1m teu, writes Marcus Hand.

While Port Klang's global ranking may have slipped a couple of notches in recent years as both Dubai and mainland Chinese ports have roared ahead, Port Klang remains an important gateway for Malaysian exports as well as a growing center for regional transshipment.

With a volume of 7.12m teu handled last year, Port Klang grew at a highly respectable 12.7%. The main driver of Port Klang's throughput growth continued to be terminal operator Westports Malaysia, 30% owned by Hutchison Port Holdings. The terminal accounted for 60.5% of total volumes in the port, handling 4.31m teu last year, up 18% from 3.67m teu in 2006.

The remaining 39.5% of the port's volumes were handled by Northport, whose volumes grew 5% to 2.81m teu last year. Total transshipment volume handled by Port Klang last year was 4.1m teu, up 15.8% from 3.5m teu in 2006, and representing 57.7% of its total throughput.

This year Port Klang Authority expects the port to handle 7.74m teu, growth of 8.7%, and terminal operators are expanding to meet increased business.

Westports has earmarked RM800m ($253m) for expansion of its facilities over the next three years. This will include the construction of container terminal five (CT5) which will boost annual capacity by 30% and be capable of handling vessels over 13,000 teu in capacity—with the first phase of construction expected to be finished before the end of the year.

"The first 300 m of CT5 will be completed by April and the remaining half by the final quarter of the year," said Ruben Emir Gnanalingam, Westports' executive director.

"Currently, Westports has a total of 2,600 m of wharf length of nine berths. To equip the lengthening of our wharf, we are further developing our container yard and have also ordered extra port equipment."

As part of the expansion, Westports has received four new super post-panamax twinlift quay cranes. To date, the terminal has 28 super post-panamax quay cranes including eight twin-lift cranes.

"Looking forward to 2008, Mr. Ruben was confident of continued strong growth. Westports continues to experience strong growth in its container volumes and we expect to become a 5m teu port by the yearend," he said.

Westports customers include the rapidly growing CMA CGM, which uses the terminal as its regional transshipment center.

Source: Lloyd's List