After years of uncertain negotiations, the Ireland-based Dublin Port Company has signed an 18-month business contract with the government to take control of the management of Sabang international port in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
Representatives from Aceh administration and Dublin Port signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2006 to jointly develop the port but no significant developments took place since then.
The agreement was signed on Nov. 13, allowing Dublin Port - through its partner HD Asia Maritime - to take part in the port's management, replacing state-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) I.
Under this agreement, the world's 12th largest port operator would handle all the port's operations and improve facilities, including the container yard, storage facilities, warehouses, and cargo terminals.
"We will also provide top-class security services for the port's customers and carry out marketing promotions to bring more ships to Sabang," said Bernardus R. Djonoputro, the CEO of consulting company HD Asia Advisory, HD Asia Maritime's parent company, during a media conference Wednesday.
The appointment of Dublin Port came as the port is embarking on a massive overhaul that could cost up to Rp 8.8 trillion (US$896 million) up until 2015 at the latest.
Sabang port is operating two piers, each is 180 meters long and 12 meters wide, capable of accommodating ships with dead weight capacity of up to 10,000 tons, with the administration now preparing to build a third pier stretching 423 meters using Rp 1 trillion of state funds.
"The construction of the third pier will finish in 2011," Sabang Area Management Body (BPKS) deputy chairman Nasruddin Daud said.
The final target is to upgrade the port with a total of 2,617 meters of piers, with the government expecting foreign investors to take part.
One of them could be Dublin Port, Bernardus said, adding that the operator was ready to disburse up to $600 million on upgrading.
"We'll see what will happen after this first phase of cooperation. It's very possible for us to invest in developing the port's infrastructure."
Sabang port is 1.4 kilometers in length and 0.8 kilometers wide with a one hectare container yard.
"Today, goods are docked at Belawan port in Medan and carried by trucks to reach Banda Aceh, 620 km away," Nasruddin added.
Banda Aceh is located about 35 miles south of Sabang. "We can save a lot of money if the goods can directly reach Sabang," he said. (bbs)