KTMB chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad (3rd from left) briefing Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man (3rd from right) on Padang Besar’s KTMB cargo terminal expansion project in Padang Besar yesterday. With them are NCIA chief executive officer Datuk Redza Rafiq (2nd from right), Malaysian Investment Development Authority chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud and other officials. Pix by Azhar Ramli/ NSTP

PADANG BESAR: Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man yesterday officiated the Logistics Integration Programme and Padang Besar KTMB Cargo Terminal Facility Upgrading Project which is set to strengthen Padang Besar’s position as the main gateway for southern Thailand’s growing export market.

Azlan, in lauding the federal government’s RM23.5 million funding for the project, which is spearheaded by the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), said the project would significantly increase Padang Besar’s KTMB cargo terminal capacity upon its completion by end of next March.

He said with the upgrading works, the terminal would see a significant jump in its cargo handling capacity from 120,000 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit) annually to over 150,000 TEUs annually.

“Padang Besar is one of the main gateways for southern Thai exports with 67 per cent going through the Northern Corridor and there is a huge potential of tapping its total 400,000 TEUs cargo movement annually.

“I am happy that this upgrading project will significantly increase Padang Besar’s cargo handling capacity by some 26 per cent, which is equivalent to over 150,000 TEUs annually,” he said after launching the expansion works project yesterday.

Present were NCIA chief executive Datuk Redza Rafiq, KTMB chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud, Perlis state legislative assembly speaker Datuk Hamdan Bahari and Multimodal Freight Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Mohd Hasdey Yaakob.

The upgrading initiatives include the construction of an office building and upgrading works at the container yard and rail tracks for the cargo section as well as the container lorries passageway, with its beneficiaries Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) and its subsidiary, Multimodal Freight Sdn Bhd (MMF), as the railway and terminal operator.

Its main objective is to optimise the cargo terminal’s efficiency in handling the cargo shipment from southern Thailand to North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) in Penang’s Seberang Perai mainland, which in turn improves its capacity in handling a larger volume of cargo annually.

Azlan, in praising the initiative, said the project would be a major boost to the state government’s plan to develop its services sector, which has been identified as one of the new nodes for Perlis economic growth.

“This project will create a major spill over to the state economy, from creating new jobs to boosting local business and more importantly, this expansion will prepare the northern region to tap the growing southern Thailand export market.

“The Padang Besar Cargo Terminal expansion project is also a boon to the Perlis government’s efforts to lure new investments to the state and also our plan to build an inland port,” he said.

Redza said the project was timely as the the cargo terminal, which handles two thirds of the southern Thailand export market, has recorded a steady 30 per cent annual growth over the past six years and in 2016, MMF recorded an annual figure of 115,877 TEUs for the inbound movement from southern Thailand via Padang Besar.

Redza said the project was a crucial component in the Logistics and Trade Facilitation Masterplan and was one of the initiatives announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the launching of the Logistics Masterplan in April 2015.

“NCIA and the other key stakeholders are committed towards targeting the project completion by end of March next year.

“We will also report progress updates periodically to the Special Committee on Services Sector which is chaired by the prime minister himself.

“The project is crucial as it will de-bottleneck the existing congestion issues at the Malaysia-Thailand border areas, as Padang Besar.

“It is our hope that today’s event will not only result in improved facilities, improved capabilities and improved efficiency of the KTMB cargo terminal, but also support further international trade activities, especially between Malaysia and southern Thailand.

“It will also help increase the efficiency in handling containers and goods clearance at the border.”

According to Redza, the project would also support and improve the current transportation and logistics system connectivity where major commercial activity centres in highly accessible areas are well connected to each other.

“It is one of the proposed high-impact projects under the Perlis Strategic Development Plan, and has been identified under the 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK-11) (Chapter 3, Focus Area D), which is to accelerate regional growth for better geographic balance — where regional corridor authorities will continue to accelerate investments by enhancing facilitation for investors, improving connectivity and mobility; and intensifying research and development and commercialisation.

“We envision that the KTMB Cargo Terminal Upgrading Project will help drive the government’s regional strategies in the context of economic development besides focusing on strengthening and empowering the rakyat’s economy. This is also in line with NCIA’s agenda of Growth with Social Equity,” he added.

Redza added that NCIA also hoped that the project would also attract more private sector investments into the region, thus leading to increased economic activities which would further benefit the locals and increase job opportunities in the sub-region.

Nawawi, in applauding the NCIA initiative, said the expansion would certainly help to improve the cargo terminal’s efficiency to handle higher volumes of shipment from southern Thailand.

“This is an important milestone for KTMB cargo services in improving our goods shipment to the receiving end, the NBCT in Butterworth.

“This upgrading project will place us on the right position
to further push the terminal’s
annual cargo handling capacity to 350,000 TEUs in future,” he said.

Nawawi said KTMB would be holding a discussion with the Customs Department to expedite the clearance process for lorries from southern Thailand at the terminal.

Meanwhile, MIDA has described the Padang Besar expansion programme as a significant milestone of the National Logistic and Trade Facilitation Masterplan, which the agency was actively involved in.

Azman said the project would boost Perlis’ internal capabilities and improve competency and trade compliance levels, as the state has already attracted 48 manufacturing projects with total investments of RM1.03 billion.

“Perlis may be the smallest state in Malaysia. However, its proximity to Thailand and Indonesia, as well as the states in the northern corridor of Malaysia makes it a highly strategic investment location.

“With further development in its infrastructure, Perlis will be well-positioned as a state of tremendous opportunity,” Azman said.

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