MEGAPORT! Singapore steps up its game...

Julian Maynard, November 1, 2019

When the British first established a trading post in Singapore in the 19th Century, they couldn’t have imagined what a truly huge impact that decision would have on global trade many years later.

To say that Singapore is a massively important shipping hub now is somewhat of an understatement, it is the singularly most important port complex in the world, based on its links to over 600 ports worldwide and with ship throughput only beaten by Shanghai.

The statistical figures are staggering; any one time, there are 1000 ships within Singapore’s dock complex with an annual gross tonnage of 2.8 Billion and more containers pass through Singapore than any other port, due to its positioning as a hub rather than just as a purely country based port.

All this is impressive enough as it is, but the next step in Singapore’s growth is in development and is poised to expand the port’s capabilities even further. It will however face some challenges...

Pushing forward

The new complex to replace the current Port complexes is called TUAS and its scale is impressive. It is being developed in 4 stages and when complete, around 2040, there will be nearly 26km of deep-water berths catering to the largest containers ships currently in use and with the capability to handle larger ones as they are produced.

It will feature massive automation, with over 1000 autonomous vehicles being used and a similar number of automated cranes in operation. The investment in technology doesn’t stop there, sophisticated maritime systems like a new traffic management system are set to streamline the comings and goings of vessels to prevent bottlenecking and increase ship throughput.

Stormy waters ahead?

This mammoth project will not be totally plain sailing (pun intended), as there is some serious competition out there that Singapore will be facing over the next decade. One such challenge is China’s belt and road strategy of investing heavily in port infrastructure within friendly countries, which is likely to cause headaches as they seek to develop new port infrastructure in Malaysia.

Both Malaysia and China are focusing on Port Klang where there is a major push to develop not only the port, but transport links that will shorten the route to the South China Sea, bypassing Singapore altogether. This development could have a negative impact on Traffic using Singapore, but the Chinese project is in many ways more complicated and could also turn out to be extremely expensive.

Despite the challenges, the investment Singapore is making will have significant benefits for the country, employing thousands of people and providing a significant revenue increase to the economy going forward, so the rewards could well outweigh the risks.

Written by Julian Maynard - Recruitment Consultant, Shipping and Logistics at Alchemy Recruitment Ltd.

Posted in categories: Cargo, Imports, International, Shipping
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