BINTULU, Jan 30 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg tonight said the state government intended to take over Bintulu Port from the federal government as part of Sarawak’s overall port development strategies.
He said the state government wants the federal government to discontinue Bintulu Port as a federal port so that it can be administered and further developed as a state port in accordance with the strategies drawn up for ports in Sarawak.
“The implementation of these development strategies for all ports in Sarawak therefore must include Bintulu Port, which should come under the jurisdiction of the state, as a state port,” he said at the 10th anniversary dinner of the Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd here.
He said taking over Bintulu Port would enable the state government to have a master plan for the development of all ports in Sarawak and to ensure each port plays its own special role in the promotion of trade and businesses and to enhance shipping connectivity with other major global transportation and logistics hubs.
Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd (BPSB) was granted a concession on January 1, 1993 for the operation of Bintulu Port in which the Sarawak government has 39.7 per cent shares and Petronas and MISC Berhad together hold 30.8 per cent shares, totalling 70.5 per cent of BPHB’s issued shares which are listed on the Bursa Malaysia.
Abang Johari said the state government wants Bintulu Port to be part of a cluster of state ports, under a central port authority that would be incorporated under state law.
“This new central port authority will streamline and coordinate the management, operation, planning and development of all ports located in the state.
“This authority will be able to ensure harmonisation of port tariffs and dues for all ports in Sarawak,” he said, adding that the Bintulu Port’s tariffs have not been revised or increased since 1993 and are lower than those of state ports, thus diverting traffic from our state ports.
“This is against the recommendation of the IGC (Inter-Governmental Committee) Report that there should be no discriminatory port dues and fees among the ports in Sarawak that would have the effect of diverting trade and maritime traffic from any of the ports,” he said.
He said the state government would like to continue working with Petronas, as major stakeholders of the port, to manage, operate Bintulu Port.
He said it is also to undertake the development of the port for the advancement of both parties’ strategic business interests, the attainment of sustainable development goals, to better serve its hinterland and other stakeholders and ensure its continued growth and success.
Bintulu Port was built after Parliament declared an area in Bintulu District as a federal port through the Federal Port Act (Act 217) in 1981.
According to the premier, the Act was passed without the mandatory request from the Sarawak assembly as required under Article 76(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution.
With the enactment of Act 217, Bintulu Port was declared a federal port.
Parliament then passed the Bintulu Port Authority Act 1981 to form the Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) whose functions were to build, control, administer and regulate Bintulu Port.