MMC flagship projects are laying the foundation for future development
by AUFA MARDHIAH
PAVING ways for the country’s development, MMC Corp Bhd is a leading conglomerate providing services on logistics, energy, engineering and industrial development.
The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) was recently invited to a media familiarisation visit to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) and the Senai Airport City (SAC) in Johor to see the updates under MMC’s flagship projects in recent years.
Port of Tanjung Pelepas
Currently ranked 15th among the world’s top container ports, PTP is Malaysia’s largest container terminal.
PTP is a joint venture between Malaysian utilities and infrastructure giant MMC (70%) and Maersk’s APM Terminals (30%), one of the largest ports operating companies which runs more than 70 ports and terminal facilities around the world.
Strategically located at the convergence of one of the world’s busiest waterways and international shipping route, the Straits of Melaka, the port was built from the ground up on 809.4ha of space to house the port terminal as well as 607ha for the free-zone area.
It currently has a capacity to handle 13 million twenty-ft equivalent units (TEUs).
In 2022, PTP handled over 10.5 million TEUs, down from 11.2 million TEUs in 2021. The decrease was due to the downturn in global demand caused by higher energy prices, the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as the change in consumer pattern of spending goods and services.
However, PTP CEO Marco Neelsen said the port is planning to invest more to upgrade its capacity in the near future.
“PTP plans to invest RM3 billion in capital expenditure (capex) over the next five years in creating an additional 3.5 million TEUs in capacity to upgrade its current terminal footprint including automation, digitisation and other port facilities,” he told the media recently.
He added that, under the port’s Ipsum Magna (Latin for great optimisation) programme, started in 2019, several port capacity and productivity improvement initiatives have been implemented which include berth and empty yard expansions, crane replacements, new autonomous prime movers, as well as the development of Tanjung Adang free trade zones.
“Referred to as Berth 0, this project under the Ipsum Magna programme is currently in the development stage and is to be situated within PTP’s undeveloped land bank, consisting of a 455m berth and 14ha of container yard with similar facilities as the existing terminal.
“It will be equipped with ship-to-shore cranes to manage barges and fully electric radioisotope thermoelectric generators to support the operation.
“This new expansion will provide a dedicated berth for barges and small feeders, which are extremely important to the local and regional market that is experiencing strong growth,” he explained.
The programme is expected to be continuously refreshed with new projects and initiatives over the next five to 10 years.
The port is also currently completing the second phase of its free zone expansion at Tanjung Adang, which started in 2020.
The 33ha of Phase 2C is currently being developed to cater to the growing market demand.
The land, which is expected to be ready by the second quarter of 2023 (2Q23), will provide opportunities to potential investors to lease land for a period of 30 years at competitive rates.
Investors may use the land to build warehouses for both short- and long-term rentals, as well as factories for light and environmentally friendly manufacturing activities.
Meanwhile, the Phase 3 of its expansion is expected to commence in 2025 with targets completion in 2028.
The remaining expansion for PTP will be Phase 4, which involves a total area of 84.17ha and Phase 5 (78.51ha).
The terminal boasted 14 berths totalling 5.04kms in linear wharf design with 18.5m channel depth. It is also equipped with 58 quay cranes of which 24 are ultra-large container vessel quay cranes.
Furthermore, it has a yard capacity of 252,400 TEUs, 4,895 of refer plugs as well as a state-of-the-art container repair service facility.
This allows the terminal to support the world’s largest vessel with capacity of up to 24,000 TEUs.
During the visit, the media also had the opportunity to witness the departure of Evergreen Marine Corp’s Ever Aria — one of the world’s largest container ships.
PTP had also recorded history in October 2021 as the first port in South-East Asia to welcome Evergreen’s Ever Ace, with 24,000 TEUs class container ships as part of the vessel’s maiden voyage in the region.
PTP also provides marine facilities for all vessel traffic going through its waterfront limit as well as 24-7 pilotage services under the management and control of its Vessel Traffic Management Information System.
Looking towards the future, Neelsen remains optimistic, commenting that the current 2023 would bring better returns to PTP.
“It’s quite difficult to predict with the global uncertainties but we are optimistic towards 2Q23 and second half of this year (2H23),” he said.
Senai Airport City
MMC’s industrial development division, on the other hand, develops and manages approximately 2023.4ha of industrial parks including SAC and Tanjung Bin Industrial Park (TBIP) in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor, as well as Northern Technocity (NTC) in Kulim, Kedah.
A 1,100ha integrated industrial development, SAC, aiming for an RM5 billion gross development value, plans to develop an additional 40.46ha to attract more foreign investors this year.
It also boasted to have the first inland port in Iskandar Malaysia with 161.9ha of gazetted free zone that caters for export-oriented industries.
SAC is well connected via a comprehensive road network with access to the North-South Expressway (PLUS), the Second Link Expressway and Senai-Desaru Expressway (SDE).
The link and interchange (Exit 254A) into PLUS, which was developed by Senai Airport City Sdn Bhd (SACSB) was completed and opened to the public in October 2016.
Currently, SACSB is planning to construct an interchange directly into SDE to SAC, which will provide direct access from SAC to the Johor Port.
In addition, SACSB has also proposed an interchange along the SDE to SAC — connecting Johor Port and PTP which will tremendously lessen the travel distance from 9.3km to 1km from SDE to SAC. The interchange is expected to start development in 2H23 and is expected to complete by the end of 2024.
The strategic access to major seaports such as the Johor Port and PTP, as well as two international airports — Johor’s Senai International Airport and Singapore’s Changi Airport — provides seamless logistics via land, sea and air transport to major cities worldwide.
SACSB CEO Gan Seng Keong said to date, SAC has invested RM500 million and will invest an additional RM200 million for another 80.94ha in Phase 2.
“Phase 1 of the development covered 465.39ha of land, including a platform and infrastructure, meanwhile, Phase 2 will include a 202ha platform that has been completed, with the remaining infrastructure in progress,” he said during the media visit.
SAC’s unique selling point is offering customisation of plot sizes according to investors’ needs.
Gan added that the company is in the process of concluding agreements with two companies from Taiwan where one is Nasdaq listed and another one is from Germany.
“We are only focusing on clean and high-tech industries in SAC and building related ecosystems to attract more investors into Johor,” he said.
The Free Industrial Zone and Free Commercial Zone is one of SAC key features in gauging export-oriented industries to operate with tax exemption on import and export duties.
Currently, the SAC Free Zone occupancy rate is at 50% and the company plans to expand the free zone area to accommodate the growing demand of multinational companies which are export-oriented.
Gan said the multiple multinational companies (MNCs) also provide high-paying job opportunities for Malaysians who might no longer travel to Singapore for work.
“Clean and high-tech industries were mostly automated, which required a more skilled labour force. The company is anticipating a 3,000 strong labour force for the first phase of the development with 90% local workers.
“There is always competition with Singapore in terms of acquiring labour. However, with more foreign investors coming into Johor, it should be able to offset the local labour challenge to stay back and work with MNCs in Malaysia,” he said.
SAC is one of two selected industrial developments under the Kulai Municipal Council’s Fast Lane (KFL) scheme, which was implemented to expedite the development approval process and operational timelines, saving 11 months compared to the conventional process of 24 months.
The KFL programme has been effectively administered to seven SAC investors since its inception in 2021.
Another development under MMC Group which was recently made open to the public in January 2023 is the Sungai Pulai Bridge which started construction in November 2017.
The 7.5-km, two-way and two-lane bridge is equipped with a 25m high and 100m wide navigation clearance for ship passage and provides direct access from Tanjung Pelepas, Gelang Patah to Tanjung Bin, Pontian.
With the existence of the bridge, users’ travel hours are significantly reduced to 30 minutes compared to roughly an hour previously.
The project which costs around RM800 million is a public-private partnership project between MMC Group and the Johor state government.
- This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition