Irish Firm May Build Aceh Port Terminal

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia could build a major port, to be used mainly for transshipment services, at the northernmost end of Sumatra in cooperation with Ireland’s Dublin Port Co., an official said on Thursday.

Dublin Port and an Indonesian agency managing the area on Sabang Island, some 30 kilometers offshore from Banda Aceh in northern Sumatra, have reached broad agreement on the project, which could cost more than US$400 million.

“In principle, all matters have been agreed on and the agreement only remains to be formalized,” said Saiful Achmad, head of the Sabang Zone Management Agency (BPKS.) Achmad said he hoped Sabang Hub International Port, the joint-venture company to run the project, could be formed one month after the official signing.

“We hope that the venture could begin to operate in late July or early August,” he said.

The new company, equally owned by BPKS and Dublin Port, would manage the port for 50 years, extending Sabang’s current 180-metre-long quay to 2,500 meters in the next five years.

“Our port will also be the deepest in the world, with a depth of 22 meters,” Achmad said, adding it could act as a distribution hub to other ports, including the region’s three main but shallower ones – Singapore and Malaysia’s Tanjung Pelepas and Port Klang.

“The concept is for Sabang to become a transshipment hub.”

The government and the Aceh administration would pay for half of the project cost while the rest would have to be sought by the joint venture.

The government declared Sabang a free trade zone in 1963 but revoked its status in 1985 as Jakarta battled a growing insurgency in the province. The zone was reinstated in 2000.

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