Dredging of a ports is big business and can cost hundreds of millions of ringgit. Do you know who has the concession to dredge ports in Malaysia? 

The federal government wants to privatise the Penang port operations to Syed Mokhtar’s Sea Terminal Shd Bhd.

In Penang, the dredging of the northern channel is expected to cost RM350m. Transport Minister and MCA secretary-general Kong Cho Ha was reported as saying that “one of the conditions in the privatisation agreement for the Penang port is that the successful company must bear the cost of dredging Penang Port”.

So which companies are involved in port dredging in Malaysia?

According to the Borneo Post, Integrated Marine Works, incorporated in 1993, entered into a 15-year concession agreement with the Malaysian government in 2004 to carry out the dredging of all ports and harbours under federal jurisdiction.

IMW has been involved in Johor, Port Klang and Penang, among others.

IMW even filed a suit in the KL High Court claiming that the dredging work for the new Samalaju Port in Sarawak, undertaken by Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd, should have been awarded to IMW without tender under the Concession Agreement. The work is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of ringgit.

But the High Court tossed out the case after agreeing with the federal government and Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd that Samalaju Port was a state port and hence did not come under the concession agreement, which covers ports under the federal government. (Others want a slice of the action!)

(Petronas has a 32.8 per cent stake in BPHB, Sarawak State Financial Secretary (30.7 per cent) and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (9.5 per cent). (Source: Dredging Today.)

So who owns IMW?

In 2002, news reports said that Integrated Marine Works Sdn Bhd, “a joint venture between local dredging specialist Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd and Syed Mokhtar-controlled Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd – has signed an agreement with Ballast Ham Dredging (BHD) (of Netherlands), to establish a reclamation and dredging company based in Malaysia.

“The joint-venture company, IMW-BHD Sdn Bhd, would be 51 per cent owned by IMW and 49 per cent owned by BHD.

(Source: Dredging News and India Times)

Ballast Ham transferred a 12,500 m3 capacity trailing suction hopper dredger HAM 310 to the new IMW Dredging and into the Malaysian registry (Maritime Journal).

Mahathir reportedly witnessed the agreement signing ceremony on board BHD’s trailing suction hopper dredger Rotterdam in Johor port (Sand and Gravel).

In 2007, MMC Corporation Bhd informed Bursa that IMW was a 51 per cent subsidiary of Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn. Bhd. MMC said that IMW “is involved in the business of dredging, breakwater, revetment, shore protection works, land reclamation and other marine infrastructure construction activities.” And it noted that IMW was the only company approved by the Malaysian government to conduct dredging for all major ports in Malaysia.

But by 2012, the Borneo Post reported that IMW “was the subsidiary of Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd, the largest Malaysian-based dredging company”.

Now who really owns Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd, which began as a small dredging concern in 1997?

For the largest dredging company in Malaysia, Inai Kiara’s website remarkably only has one page! Its Facebook page is not very revealing either.

Some questions to ponder over:

  • Who really owns Inai Kiara Sdn Bhd?
  • How did IMW become the only company approved to carry out dredging work in all ports under federal jurisdiction for 15 years?
  • Why didn’t Bintulu port opt for IMW?
  • What are the checks and balances in place to ensure that the federal government/ports are getting their money’s worth from dredging?
  • Is there a competent truly independent operations audit on the entire process of maintenance dredging including the pre-survey, the post-survey and the cubic metres actually dredged?