Singapore’s Tuas mega-port: plain sailing ahead?

  • The upcoming Tuas mega-port, primed as the crown jewel of its maritime industry.
  • Reclamation works for the first phase of development are on schedule, with more than 70% of the 221 caissons installed as of the end of Apr 18, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). The remaining caissons will be completed by early 2019. In Apr 18, the MPA awarded a SGD1.46bn contract to a global consortium for the second phase of development at the port.
  • The Tuas mega-port, when completed in 2040, will be able to handle up to 65 million standard-sized containers, up from some 40 million on 4 Jun 18. It will house all of Singapore’s container activities, running on emerging technologies, automation and data analytics.
  • The lease for Singapore’s three city terminals – Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani – expires in 2027, and the land that will be freed up will be redeveloped as part of the Greater Southern Waterfront project.
  • Since 2016, Singapore’s port operator PSA has begun to relocate operations from the city terminals to the newer Pasir Panjang Terminal, which will host most port activities until Tuas is operational, starting from 2021.
  • Industry watcher Tan Hua Joo, executive consultant at Alphaliner, said the new port would help Singapore cope with the anticipated growth in container volumes. The move to Tuas would allow Singapore to retain its position as the leading container transhipment hub in Southeast Asia. The Tuas port is designed to accommodate mega-vessels and can run on the latest port technologies and systems.
  • All of this comes at a time when competition between ports continues to intensify, each vying to anchor big shipping alliances, while digitalisation is driving change in big waves in the maritime industry with big data and automation.
  • An MPA spokesman said the new port reflects the government’s approach of planning for the long term, while remaining responsive to new developments and opportunities.
  • Singapore did well to cement its dominant position as the port of call in the region in 2017. Container throughput rose 8.9% to 33.7 million containers, employment in the maritime industry logged over 170,000 people and contributed 7% to the economy.
  • Regional competitors include Malaysian ports of Klang and Tanjung Pelepas, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand have also invested heavily in modern deep-water facilities, resulting in larger vessels calling directly at these ports, allowing cargo to skip being transhipped in the Strait of Malacca and go straight to Vietnam.

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