Dutch port operator backs RI hub port development

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

For a country with great export potential such as Indonesia, putting in place a hub port -- which enables direct shipping of goods -- is crucial to support its economic development, say experts from the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

"Currently, a large portion of Indonesian exports still have to go through Singapore first before entering Europe," Port of Rotterdam delegation member Jouke Schaap said Wednesday during a seminar.

The delegation met with government officials and businesspeople during a four-day trip here, mostly to share experiences on port management and logistical issues.

The government has for some time been planning to develop a hub port in Bojonegara, Banten, to greatly reduce the country's dependency on Singaporean and Malaysian ports.

Bojonegara Port, with an expected cost of nearly Rp 2 trillion (around US$214 million), is expected to ease congestion at Tanjung Priok, the country's largest current port, and ship worldwide direct.

Rotterdam is an important port of entry to Europe for Indonesian products. In 2004, total container traffic from Indonesia to Rotterdam, and vice versa, increased by 40 percent to 66,521 TEU (20-foot equivalent units).

"We are not able to determine how many Indonesian containers are transported through Singapore, but it is obviously more than 66,000," he said.

Schaap added that with more goods coming directly from Indonesia's own port, the cost of shipping could be lowered, thus increasing the competitiveness of local products on the European market.

The European Union is currently one of Indonesia's largest trading partners. Non-oil and gas exports to the region amounted to $10.1 billion last year, while imports from the group reached $5.73 billion.

Aside from encouraging the country to quickly set up its own hub port, the delegates shared the latest developments in the shipping and logistics sectors, and the services Rotterdam could offer to Indonesian shippers.

Among these services is information technology to improve management, the availability of fiscal representation for exporters entering Holland and the development of short sea shipping.

In relation to the developing trend of short sea shipping, European-affiliated consultant PA Asia presented during the seminar its assessment on a planned short sea port in Cikalong, Tasikmalaya.

Development of such ports will give market access to neglected regions, PA Asia representative Sabam Siagian said.

He added that Tasikmalaya could be a starting point as it was rich in resources, yet largely underutilized.

"A multifunctional port for fish processing, container feeder services and a bulk terminal in Cikalong connected to short sea shipping will lead to optimal logistical solutions for the southern coast," he said.
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