Malaysia's southernmost port Tanjung Pelepas is seeking an expansion plan to accommodate 30 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by 2030, Transport Minister Anthony Loke has told reporters in Johor Baru.
"Right now, the port is reaching nine million TEUs and the capacity is 12.5 million TEUs, with an 8 per cent to 9 per cent expansion annually," Mr Loke said of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) yesterday.
"If we don't do anything, within three to four years, it will reach full capacity. We can't wait until then to plan for expansion."
In his speech at the Johor Port Week opening ceremony earlier, Mr Loke said the federal government is seeking to make PTP a "major transshipment hub competing among the best in the world".
He also said that PTP had recorded 7 per cent growth last year, handling 8.96 million TEUs.
The port also nailed a world record in July this year with the world's largest container ship MSC Gulsun departing PTP with 19,574 TEUs on board.
In a bid to make Malaysia more attractive as a shipping hub, Mr Loke said the government is easing regulations to make business at ports easier, while encouraging digitisation to increase efficiency.
Measures implemented include removing the need for permits and licences for 54 goods in containers on trans-shipment in Malaysia, and seeking to promote development of bunkering hubs in ports.
The cost of PTP's expansion plan will be borne by the private sector, Mr Loke said, with the government's support.
The project is expected to be done in phases to accommodate fresh capacity once the port hits its current limit of 12.5 million TEUs.
However, details of the expansion will be announced only later, once talks with the Johor state government are done.
"PTP has to grow for the country to maximise its profits and abilities. This is a strategic port for the country," the minister said. "Malaysia is a maritime country, so we need to utilise our strengths for economic development."
Mr Loke hopes that the PTP expansion would draw in additional investments from multiple sectors, especially the logistics industry.
With the intention to make Johor a "regional distribution centre", Mr Loke wants PTP to attract large corporations, including those from the automotive sector, to set up shop in Johor.
"We want to make this their base to distribute goods within this region. We have land for warehouse and land for port development," he told reporters.