The government will develop 25 international ports over the next few years in order to facilitate the country's growing foreign trade in regions outside Java, a senior official at the Ministry of Transportation says.
The ministry's director general for sea transportation, Harijogi, said Thursday that the 25 ports would be selected from among the existing 141 ports.
Speaking following a hearing with the House of Representatives' transportation commission, he said that the 25 ports would be developed in such a way that their operations would be focused on serving international routes.
He pointed out that while some of existing ports had already been serving international traffic, they needed to be modernized so as to expand throughput.
"Our research and development unit is investigating which of the 141 ports can be developed as full international ports," he said. He did not disclose the locations of the 25 ports, but said that most of them were located outside Java.
"The research and development unit is auditing the performance of each port and should have concluded its survey by the end of this year," he said.
According to Harijogi, besides the survey, the ministry was also drafting a master plan and investigating which international port security systems should be installed in the 25 ports.
The two tasks, he said, were respectively expected to be completed by August and October.
He refused to comment on how much investment and additional infrastructure would be needed in the future, saying that the master plan was not yet finished.
The ministry's plan to establish new international sea ports, Harijogi said, was key to facilitating the flow of exports and imports as mandated by Presidential Instruction No. 6 of 2007 on accelerated growth in the real, and micro, small and medium enterprises sectors.
Harijogi said the ministry would also discuss the plan with the relevant local administrations. "They should be excited to have their ports upgraded to international standard," he said.
Senior ministry officials, including Transportation Minister Jusman Syafei Djamal, were in the House to discuss the shipping law (amendment) bill with the members of the commission.
The government has proposed in the bill that the private sector be allowed to operate sea ports. The sector is at present the preserve of state-owned port management companies Pelindo I, Pelindo II, Pelindo III and Pelindo IV.
Harijogi said that the change was urgently needed so that the private sector, especially foreign investors, could participate in the modernization of the country's port services.
A number of companies, including foreign firms, have expressed interest in developing and operating ports here but are prevented from doing so by the legal obstacles, he said.
The government also proposes in the revised bill that foreign-flagged vessels be prohibited from carrying local freight within the country's territorial waters, thereby giving a statutory basis to a similar existing prohibition set out in a government regulation.(06)