Muara Port recently welcomed the M. V. Supa Bhum, a 6393 GRT container feeder vessel owned by Regional Container Lines Pte. Ltd (RCL).
The feeder vessel which can accommodate a capacity of 628 teus, is a part of the maiden voyage of the newly launched Regional East Malaysia (REM) service between East Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.
This new REM service commenced on 10 October 2022 from Singapore and is scheduled to run on a bi-weekly basis, once every 14 days.
“The arrival of this vessel marks a fruitful collaboration between Muara Port Company (MPC), Ben Line Agencies (B) Sdn. Bhd and RCL,” said MPC Chief Operating Officer (COO), Fazilah Yassin, in his welcoming speech.
“I am pleased that through this collaboration initiative, MPC will be able to expand its regional connectivity and reinforce more shipping liners into Muara Port.”
“Through its partnership with new shipping liners, Muara Port will be positioned as a key driver in facilitating import and export shipments.”
Muara Port was built in 1973 as a deep-water port and is Brunei’s largest port and the country’s main international trade gateway, according to the COO.
“It is strategically located in ASEAN, has excellent connectivity along the Belt and Road Maritime Silk Road, and has the potential to become a major port hub for the Eastern Growth Area, which includes Borneo Island, BIMP-EAGA, and the larger ASEAN region.”
At present, the sultanate’s connectivity coverage by countries includes Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan with 23 shipping lines represented by 13 shipping agents.
“As of September, the top five commodities coming into Muara Port were “Foodstuff” – the highest, which accounts for 42.1 per cent of all other commodities,” said Fazilah.
The other commodities are as follows: Household at 19.7 per cent, Building Materials at 16.7 per cent, Miscellaneous at 13.52 per cent and Telecommunication and Electrical Products at 8 per cent.
“Ports are essential to the development and growth of other economic prospects. As you are aware, MPC is continuously striving to transform Muara Port into a regional shipping and transshipment hub in the Southeast Asia region,” said Fazilah.
In achieving this, the COO outlined a number of initiatives MPC has implemented that can serve as a catalyst towards this direction.
First is the Expansion of the Muara Container Terminal by another 250 metres, slated to be completed by 2025.
This expansion is to facilitate the anticipated growth in volume from local industries and international cargoes while accommodating larger vessels and doubling the terminal capacity by 500,000 teus per year.
Other initiatives are the Refurbishment of the Muara Conventional Terminal, as well as warehouses and storage areas, the modernisation of terminal infrastructures and the adoption of technologies.
Furthermore, the company hopes to generate increasing throughput volume in and out of the Port from downstream industries such as the Brunei Fertilizer Industry (BFI) and Food and Beverage Industries.
The COO reiterated that MPC values its amiable relations with both Benline and RCL.
“Their presence is essential and we anticipate that through this new service, we will be able to generate more volume in and out of Muara Port.”
“With this, I would like to express that in order for MPC to succeed, we need to strengthen our collaborations and coordinate our efforts with both local and international stakeholders, as well as the government of Brunei Darussalam’s ongoing support,” concluded Fazilah.
In his remarks, Manager of Ben Line Agencies (B) Sdn. Bhd., Anthony Dass Subramaniam said June 2019 marked a remarkable year for the company as it was the year the agency was incorporated in the sultanate.
“It was the same year together with Tuan Fazilah, (that) we had set sail in how we could transform Muara Port as a regional hub. However, our plans were momentarily set back due to Covid-19.”
Despite the delay, Ben Line Agencies continued their efforts to work through the challenging situation.
“It has come to our attention (that) it is important to have a consistent shipping solution to support the local industry’s growth and primarily enhance the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in support of their need for a shipping solution connecting regionally and internationally,” said Subramaniam.
He shared that the REM service is unique and specifically tailored to suit the need of the East Malaysia and Brunei industry players, along with the fastest shipping solution connecting to the global ports through Singapore.
“We also believe RCL may not stop here, but in the near future, open up more and new trade lines connecting Intra Asia Nations and support to transform Muara Port as a regional hub,” he added.
The vessel’s previous port of call was Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and is scheduled for Bintulu in Sarawak next.