Frankly Speaking: Do we need more studies for Carey Island Port?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 3, 2018 - September 09, 2018.
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Transport Minister Anthony Loke said last week that the government was looking to conduct an independent feasibility study on the proposed port development for Carey Island, south of Port Klang, by as early as November.

“The government, through the Port Klang Authority as the port regulator, will appoint an independent consultant through an RFP (request for proposal),” Loke said at a press conference.

The Carey Island port was the subject of much discussion in 2016 when it was first proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

In fact, MMC Port Holdings Sdn Bhd, a unit of MMC Corp Bhd, India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd and Sime Darby Property Bhd had gone so far as to ink a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed development of an integrated maritime city on the island, which includes the port.

However, the proposal lost momentum when Westports Holdings Bhd said it planned to invest up to RM10 billion to double its container-handling capacity to 30 million twenty-foot equivalent units a year by 2040.

But why is the government conducting another study?

The Port Klang Masterplan 2010-2030 was done not so long ago in May 2011, and covered the need for a third port. The consultants were GHK (Hong Kong) Ltd and Orion Marine.

The price tag for the Carey Island development is pegged at RM200 billion, so the consultation fees as a percentage of the cost will be huge.

As a matter of fact, the authorities should exercise more caution when it comes to feasibility studies. Recall that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission detained an engineering consultant as part of a probe into the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project when fictitious claims to the tune of RM305 million for feasibility studies were uncovered earlier this year.

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