Where is the RM370 million ‘Super Highway’ Sarawak River promised by Kuching Port Authority??


In 2017, a RM370 million dredging project funded by the Federal government under the 11th Malaysia Plan was carried out at Sarawak river with the aim to deepen the navigational channel of 9 metres below chart datum of 23.4 km stretch. The project was completed in 2020.

The Kuching Port Authority (KPA) claimed in year 2020 that the multi-millions dredging work is necessary to make Sarawak River into a super highway so that all ships or vessels do not have to wait for high tide to sail to either Senari or Pending Ports thereby will help the shipping community savings in cost and time as well as better navigational safety.

However, what I was made to understand, till now, the maximum draught for vessel channeling from Pilot station in Tg Po to Senari and Pending terminals is still 7.5 metres and not 9 metres as claimed.  This is confirmed in Kuching Port Authority official website where it clearly stated physical restriction draught is 7.5 metres.

Does it mean that the so-called dredging project failed to meet its purpose? Where is the 9 metres bellow chart datum or Super highway as promised by KPA? For a ship to channel from the Pilot Station at Tajong Po to Senari port or Pending port, it will still have to wait for the High Tide, Referral to the daily tide table for tidal information is a must for all ships that wish too. There is no improvement on the draught condition and for the vessels to berth and unberth. I was told from Tanjong Po, it takes about one hour for the vessel to reach Senari Port whereas to Pending port it is about two hours during high tide.

Furthermore, since year 2016, KPA has start collecting channel maintenance fees of RM1 per ton for general cargo, bulk cargo vessel and Roro and RM36.25 per 20’ container (1 teu) and RM72.50 for 40’ container(2 teus).  KPA claimed that the fee is necessary for maintenance dredging of Sarawak River to increase the draught (depth of water needed to float a ship) of the river otherwise siltation will gradually reduce the draught of the river which will hinder navigation.

The shipping community is asking what is the purpose of continuing collecting these channel maintenance fees when KPA cannot ensure them in enjoying the super highway services at Sarawak river? This is unfair and dishonest treatment towards the consignees as they are paying for nothing. The money paid to KPA is not minimal but in millions and millions of ringgits each year. By bringing this issue in this August House, I urged the Minister concerned to give an answer to it.

For this channel maintenance fee collection, could the Minister also inform this August House why are the monies collected by KPA Port Sdn Bhd on behalf of KPA?   In what capacity is KPA Port Sdn Bhd allowed to make such a collection? Why KPA allow KPA Port Sdn Bhd to control its collection? Why would KPA entrust a Sdn Bhd to do the collection of revenue and not themselves? After the collection, who did KPA Port Sdn Bhd pay the money to? What are the types of maintenance works if any which have been carried out? Which company is appointed to carry out the dredging maintenance work?

KPA Port Sdn Bhd has also been appointed by KPA years back to build facilities for containers, bulk, general and liquid cargoes, to provide handling services for these cargoes as well as to carry out all port services including those related to Free Commercial Zone status.

Could the Minister concerned reveal why was KPA Port Sdn Bhd chosen to do the services? Was there any open tender called before the appointment? Where is the transparency and accountability of this appointment? All of a sudden, KPA Port Sdn Bhd popped up just like the RM31 million Waterfront Musical fountain. As I understand, for the stevedoring services, KPA Port Sdn Bhd sub out the services to others and did not carry out the job themselves.
KPA should be able to see clearly that the modus operandi of KPA Port Sdn Bhd, particularly in handling the stevedoring services. Once they got the job from consignees, they sub it out to other stevedores to do the task at a lower rate. I highlight the this modus operandi for us here to know the consequences of letting one company to monopolise the chunk of the port services.

In addition, the consignees would like to enquire why KPA also let KPA Port Sdn Bhd to issue Convoy Note and Port Bill for those vessels using Pending terminal? These Convoy Note and Port Bill in earlier years before KPA Port Sdn Bhd came in,  were issued by KPA. On top of that, the same arrangement was made for KPA Port Sdn Bhd to collect port whafage of RM2.80 per tonnes? Why so?  Why let KPA Port Sdn Bhd to collect the revenues that belongs to KPA?

KPA owns 30 percent share holdings in KPA Port Sdn Bhd through Kuching Port Holding Sdn Bhd. From the SSM search, there was zero revenue declared in SSM summary of financial information.

Every year, KPA Port Sdn Bhd is making profits in millions, may we know why was there no dividend declared to Kuching Port Holding Sdn Bhd. What is the purpose of keeping the revenue zero? Why did KPA allow non declaration of dividend to its holding company? Tell us, where is the money?

For a layman, is it beyond comprehension that Kuching Port Holding Sdn Bhd which is wholly owned by KPA has zero revenue annually. Please, enlighten us here.

Could the Minister enlighten this August House whether there is any conflict of interest for the General Manager of KPA to be appointed as the Director of KPA Port Sdn Bhd? On one hand, the general manager is representing KPA and on the other hand, he is the director of a Sdn Bhd. 

The KPA Port Sdn Bhd is using the KPA logo on their business name card. I saw the name card of the Managing Director Nobel Pang of KPA Port Sdn Bhd with the KPA logo printed on it. Kuching Port Sdn Bhd and KPA are two separate entities. Did KPA consent to such usage of the logo by KPA Port Sdn Bhd? Otherwise, it will be seen as misrepresentation of information. So do not mislead the public with the usage of the KPA logo if there is no authorisation to do so!

We know that a crossover bridge will soon be completed between Samarahan and Sejingkat. As I understand once the bridge is completed, vessels above 35 metres air draught will not be able to pass through to Pending port. By then, all these big vessels will be forced to use Senari port. We can expect a sudden surge of traffic going to Senari port. Is the current capacity of Senari port sufficient to cater the high vessel traffic? Is there any immediate backup plan by KPA to address this issue?

For Bintulu Port, it is hoped that the Port Management could look into improving the efficiency of the facilities immediately, as the crane or forklift is down daily causing many vessels to turn away due to the slowness of the services rendered.

Why is YB Tg Batu being appointed as a Board member of Bintulu Port and Port of Samalaju. Why is he appointed to sit in two ports? Is there no other capable person?

Let us now go to the definition of the word, Government at Page 8 of the Bill, it means the State Government of Sarawak.

Last Saturday, your goodself in answering the press question whether it is Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak or Dewan Undangan Sarawak, quote and unquote , “Whether it is Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak or Dewan Undangan Sarawak, that is the question, which one? In tandem with MA 63, in the spirit and intendment of MA63, Sarawak is a region, not one of the 13 states. Since it is a region and not one of the 13 states, it is only logical and axiomatic that the word ‘negeri’ be dropped. So the State Legislative of Sarawak should be Dewan Undangan Sarawak. Because, you are no longer a state, you are a region.
The member of Dewan Sarawak speaker of Dewan Sarawak. Ahli Dewan Sarawak, we stick to the definition.”

Mr. Speaker, May I ask why is the State Attorney General of Sarawak taking a different stand and still view Sarawak as a State instead of a region as Speaker, your goodself has perceived? So does that mean with this definition of the word, “government”, the Sarawak GPS government is not with you, on your argument.

So today, Sarawak is still one of the 13 states and not a region, correct? So we the honorable member in this house are still called Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri, Sarawak. Right?