Labuan Liberty Wharf has potential to be transshipment hub, says minister


LABUAN Port, also known as Labuan Liberty Wharf, has the potential to be a transshipment hub for rice and other commodities in Malaysia due to its strategic location and natural depth.

To realise this, the port must be fully optimised and backed by necessary policies for it to be properly regulated by the authorities.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said for Labuan Port to be a transshipment hub, it must be able to handle both containerised and break-bulk cargo of the transshipment activities.

“I know Labuan Port has long been handling transshipment activities and I can see the potential, but it needs to be fully developed with the necessary facilities and backed by regulations,” he added.

He was speaking at a press conference after a briefing on the port’s operation by Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn Bhd (LLPM) and proposed new port tariffs by the Labuan Port Authority (LPA).

Loke said the LPA, being the port regulatory body, would have a strategic discussion on the Labuan Port’s long-term plans and on turning it into a transshipment hub.

“Discussions will also touch on whether Labuan needs a new port…we will let them (LPA) provide input and come up with recommendations before any decision can be made at the ministry level,” he added.

He disclosed that Labuan Port’s new port tariffs would be regulated by the LPA.

“As the port has over the years been implementing unregulated tariffs, new tariffs — comparable to other ports — will be gazetted and implemented early next year and will, in turn, help monitor the prices of goods on the island.

“It is my hope as the transport minister to fully support Labuan Port’s development, especially the efforts of the LPA to utilise its strategic position,” Loke said.

He said the ministry is also looking into the full development of Labuan Port to help drive the island’s economy.

He said although Labuan Port’s current size limits further development, new initiatives taking place in the future would help transform its look.

“We have received short-term development proposals (through an open request for proposal) from players, including the existing port operator, LLPM. Nevertheless, we (ministry and the LPA) need to work out a longer arrangement with the future port operator on long-term development plans,” he said.

Loke said the current lack of development and facilities at the Labuan Port is due to the fact that LLPM had been only allowed to manage the port on a monthly basis.

“The private sector will not put in money (to develop the port facilities) if they only have a monthly agreement…that is why we have this request for proposal and are getting a lot of interest,” he said.

Loke said it is the job of the LPA and its board members to thoroughly scrutinise each of the proposals and what is best for Labuan Port.

He said the appointment of the new operator would be made before year-end.

The minister was on a one-day working visit to Labuan.