Some RM350m of public funds will be spent to dredge the Penang channel once again to allow large ships to pass through; so it is all the more important for us to know what is causing the siltation.
This report from theSun:
Dredging works back on track
Posted on 27 June 2011 – 08:48pm
SUNGAI PETANI (June 27, 2011): The delayed RM351 million dredging project to deepen the northern section of the Penang Channel is back on track after a hold-up of more than a year.
The move to release the funds allocated through the Finance Ministry brings to an end an impasse over the project that had been planned to enable large transhipments to use Penang Port.
Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) CEO Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar said the dredging works are back on track after consultation with “relevant authorities”.
The project is scheduled to be completed within the next 18 months, he said. The crucial access channel for the port’s ships would then be 14.5 metres deep compared to the current 11.5 metres.
There have been concerns that if the channel is not deepened, many shipping companies would prefer to bypass Penang and make other places such as Port Klang their port of call.
In May, Ahmad reportedly lamented that certain “little Napoleons” in the ministry were obstructing the funds which were supposed to be released last year.
Ahmad had said PPSB stands to lose between RM50 million and RM60 million a year due to the delay.
He said a major shipping company with assets of about RM20 billion wants to transport steel from a plant in Prai to a port in India, but is unable to do so as the current depth does not allow large ships to pass through.
Speaking at the PPSB’s corporate golf tournament here on Sunday, Ahmad said that with the project back on track, the channel’s deepening would now enhance Penang Port’s competitiveness in sustaining its existing businesses, as well as to capture new business opportunities.
“The capacity building at Penang Port is in tandem with Penang Port’s stated vision of becoming the premier port and logistics chain integrator in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) region as well as the Bay of Bengal,” he said.
The ministry’s move to continue with the project comes on the heels of the Penang government’s announcement in early June that it had received official interest from at least four China-based engineering companies for an underwater tunnel to be built, linking the island and mainland, along the same northern channel.
The PPSB has since expressed concern that the tunnel project would go through the same stretch of sea that the port wants to have dredged, and that this could disrupt the shipping route into the port.