The Sepanggar Bay Container Port has been proposed to be upgraded to become the ‘Transhipment Hub of the East’ by 2030, said Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
He said Sabah Port Authority (SPA), which made the proposal, wanted to balance the export and import activities at the port which currently has a high percentage of import activities at 80 per cent compared with export (20 per cent).
“The inbalance is the main reason for the shipping cost to send cargo or container to Sabah where shipowners must consider the return cost in determining the container delivery cost to Sabah.
“High shipping cost is the main reason for the cost of living and cost of doing business (that is high) in Sabah,” he said in reply to a question from Chan Foong Hin (DAP-Sri Tanjong) at the Sabah State Legislative Assembly here, today.
He said SPA and Sabah Port Sdn Bhd had presented an application to the federal government for the project, worth RM1.5 billion, to be included in the budget for the 11th Malaysia Plan.
Pairin who is also Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister said a study related to the proposal costing RM200,000 is being undertaken and it was expected to complete this month.
He said the state government through the state Economic Planning Unit and Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority had also agreed and supported the proposal.
To an additional question from Datuk Syed Abas Syed Ali (BN-Balung) on measures taken by the government to reduce the difference in the costs of goods between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, Pairin said several initiatives had been identified and discussions with the Transport Ministry was ongoing.
He said there were still many things to be considered and a more detailed meeting to discuss this would be continued.
Meanwhile, to a question from Datuk Au Kam Wah (BN-Elopura), Industrial Development Deputy Minister Datuk Bolkiah Ismail said Sabah’s main exports last year included rubber (RM217.7 million), palm kernel cake (RM326.4 million), crude petroleum (RM18.6 billion), sawn timber (RM393.5 million) and manufactured goods worth RM3.3 billion. (Ast)