KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is in desperate need for the Sepanggar Transhipment Hub project to be implemented as soon as possible but the funds needed are still with the federal government.
Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau said the project, which will cost RM1.8 billion, was a priority for the state government.
“At the moment, the Sepanggar port bay only handles 280,000 containers annually.
“We need to increase the number of the containers the port is handling to 500,000 annually,” he told reporters after addressing the ministry’s staff here today.
Tangau, who is also Sabah industrial development minister, said with the funds, the transhipment project could be completed in two years.
Once completed, the port will be able to handle more than a million containers a year.
However, in order for the port to benefit the people, Tangau said it was crucial to increase production output in the state.
“At the moment, the manufacturing industry contributes only 7.5% of the state’s total GDP. We need to increase that to 30% to be considered a developed nation. However, we are facing various challenges to reach that target.
“We want ships to come to Sabah directly without having to go through other ports. In order for this to happen, we need to help the industry by increasing the number of containers,” he said.
Currently, he said, ships only go to bigger ports that have more containers.
“In the next two years, if we get the funds for the transhipment hub project to go ahead, we’ll need to immediately increase our local production.
“At the same time, we need to give incentives and training to small and medium industries so they can increase their capacity to produce products that are marketable to the world market,” he said.
The previous state government had hoped that with the hub, shipping companies would be willing to lower their shipping rates, thus lowering prices of goods and cost of doing business in Sabah.
Tangau’s ministry is also intensifying efforts to attract investments into the existing industrial parks such as the Sipitang Oil and Gas Park (Sogip), Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) and the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu and Sandakan.