Wed, 14 Jun 2000

JICT aims to rival Singapore as hub port

JAKARTA (JP): Port operator Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) expects to rival Singapore in becoming a world hub for Indonesian routes.

JICT president Simon Moore said here on Monday that the company planned to invest some US$200 million over a period of four years to expand and upgrade the services of its port in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta.

"All the expansion is designed to handle big ships," he told The Jakarta Post.

Moore said that at present over 60 percent of Indonesian cargo was being transshipped at the Singapore port, causing yearly opportunity losses of US$100 million to JICT alone.

"We're trying to bring the port home," Moore told the Post on Monday.

He said at present ships from various Indonesian ports send their cargo to Singapore first, where the cargo was being transferred to bigger vessels, before they ship out to their actual destinations.

"Shipping companies must have confidence that their ships can be handled well," he said.

According to him, shipping companies had two main concerns: the reliability of a port service and the physical capacity of a port to handle their ships.

"All of our expansion plans are designed to handle big ships," Moore explained.

He said the company managed some 90 percent of international shipping companies arriving at Tanjung Priok.

The company had further invested some US$20 million in new equipment to better serve the shipping companies, he said.

JICT is 51 percent owned by major port company Hutchison Port Holdings and 41 percent owned by PT. Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) II.

Hutchison, Moore said, had an extensive global network that would benefit the company's marketing efforts to attract foreign shipping companies to use JICT's port service.

He said JICT would also train their workers at various international Hutchison ports to enhance their skills.

Chief executive of Hutchison Matthew S.K. Chan said that it was equally important that all JICT workers were committed to the aims of the company.

JICT workers had frequently held strikes over inadequate payments and due to lay-off threats.

The company, however, reported on Monday that it had issued a written guarantee to the workers that they would not be laid off, and also agreed to improve their working conditions.

Chan said that the company in fact needed additional workers in line with its plan to expand the port.

However, he said that at present there was no sign of improvement in the commitment of the workers.

"The level of commitment is not very stable," he said.

According to him, a lack of commitment would threaten the company's plan to become a world class hub port in Indonesia.

Shipping companies would avoid using JICT's port if the workers' reliability was questionable.(bkm)