The Sihanoukville Autonomous Port chief says Cambodia doesn't need more than one port, and he has a good idea which one should survive
A loader manoeuvres containers at the Sihanoukville port.
THE lack of a deep-water harbor for large cargo ships in Sihanoukville is costing the port US$50 million in lost revenues each year, Lou Kim Chhun, chairman and CEO of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP), told the Post last week.
He added that too many ports in Cambodia have weakened the national economy by spreading out larger shipments in smaller parcels throughout the Kingdom.
"Based on its economy of scale, Cambodia only needs the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port," Lou Kim Chhun said.
He said large shipments must currently arrive at larger ports in Singapore or Vietnam and then get separated into smaller shipments for transport to Cambodia, adding as much as $500 in extra fees per container.
"If we had one deep-water port, and if we couldincrease our throughput to one million containers, ships carrying large cargo shipments would dock in our port," he said.
He said with other ports in Sihanoukville, as well as those in Phnom Penh and the forthcoming Kampot port, capacity is diminished by being spread over a larger area that can handle only small amounts of cargo.
"If larger ships could dock at our port, the economy would be able to compete with our neighbours," he said. "Without that ability, we're not able to process as many containers and will lose as much as $50 million a year in revenues."
Lou Kim Chhun said he faces mounting competition from Sihanoukville's Oknha Mong port, which deals primarily in goods coming in from Thailand.
Tann Monivann, vice president of the Oknha Mong port, said Lou Kim Chhun's comments were motivated by self-interest.
"He is simply trying to protect the advantage of his port," he said. "If Lou Kim Chhun wants a deep-water port, he should build one and enjoy the advantages, but it makes no sense to say Cambodia needs only one port."
Lou Kim Chhun said the SAP will eventually include a deep-water harbor, along with several other planned improvements to take advantage of growing annual revenues.
"This year, we expect to increase throughput to 2 million tonnes, with revenues of $28.8 million," he said.
The SAP will add a Special Economic Zone in 2009 on 70 hectares of land adjacent to the port, he said, adding that he hoped the port would match the quality and capacity of regional ports in the next four years. Other projects include a 13.5-metre-deep port for heavy cargo and a shallower 7.5-metre-deep port for a new oil supply terminal projected to begin construction in 2011. "We are building in anticipation of demand rather than letting the demand wait on the port," he said.