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Dredging of Sarawak River Calls for a Channel Maintenance Fee

Posted on July 4, 2016

Kuching Port Authority (KPA) said there was a need to start charging the Channel Maintenance Fee for the dredging of Sarawak River.

In a press statement on Wednesday, KPA general manager Rosli Saup said without maintenance dredging, siltation will gradually reduce the draught (depth of water needed to float a ship) of the river which will hinder navigation.

“Maintenance dredging is required to maintain the required draught along the river.

“Funding is required now as it has to be carried out as soon as possible, depending on the re-siltation rate along the river immediately after capital dredging along the 23.4 km stretch,” he explained.

The Channel Maintenance Fee commenced from June 1 as per the Kuching Port Authority (Dues, Rates, and Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2016.

Rosli said the channel maintenance fee of RM1 per tonne of cargo will translate into 0.100 sen per kg for general cargo or 0.145 sen per kg for containerised cargo.

“However, the short and long term benefits of the maintenance dredging for the shipping companies include greater economy of scale from higher cargo load per voyage, shorter chartering time of vessels, time-saving from not having to wait for the tide at the river mouth for six to 12 hours, cost savings from demurrage, and minimising the risk of maritime accidents.

“The deepened Sarawak River will in the long run lower the shipping cost which may be passed on to consumers.

“In addition, bigger cruise passenger vessels can call on Kuching, boosting the local tourism industry,” he said.

The dredging of the Sarawak River is the combined effort of the Federal Government and Sarawak State Government under the 11th Malaysia Plan to realise a 15-year-old dream of deepening the draught of the Sarawak River to nine metres below chart datum, turning it into a shipping super highway for bigger ships.

The Federal Government has committed RM360 million for capital dredging while the State Government will fund the maintenance dredging through the Channel Maintenance Fee.

The project is scheduled to commence in October this year.

On Tuesday, DAP Sarawak chairman questioned the rationale of charging the maintenance fee before the project had commenced, saying it was unfair to charge for a facility that had not been built yet.

Source: Borneo Post online

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