MAJOR Malaysian ports recorded significant container volume growth, some as much as 26%, during the first four months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

Increase in local and transhipment traffic as well as worldwide box movements, additional services and ship calls and better productivity all contributed to the up trend.

Westport attributed its 7% growth to additional and new joint direct services, increase in vessel calls and high productivity and vessel turnaround time.

The terminal’s volume reached 813,578 boxes for the first four months of this year compared to 760,449 boxes the corresponding period last year.It moved 548,789 TEUs of transhipment traffic and 264,789 local boxes.

Westport executive chairman Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam said most liners were bringing in new vessels and services, thus creating space availability for local and transhipment cargo.

“This can be accredited to the boom in the east to westbound trade. With this we have forecasted our volume to hit 2.8 million TEUs this year, a 22% growth.

“We expect new services to start so we will definitely see a healthy growth this year.

“Currently, work on CT 4 and CT 5 is in progress, each of those consisting 600m of wharf space, 90 acres of yard space and sets of twin lift quay cranes.

“There were several maiden services that called Westport during the first four months. These new services launched by liners will directly make Westport a transit centre for booming trade between the East and West.

What other plans for the remainder of the years?

Gnanalingam said for the rest of the year, Westport would complete the construction of CT4 and CT 5. For this expansion, Westport will increase yard space by a total of 180 acres.

There will also be two central freight stations (CFS) set up to cater for the increasing demand for stuff and un-stuffing activities.

“We will build a marine jetty as a marine base for Westport’s tug and pilot boats. There will also be a gate expansion project whereby the current gate to the container terminal will be expanded to cater for growing demands. “The main access road to Westport will also be expanded. Another interesting project to be implemented this year would be to use RTGs to load and discharge containers for the Rail wagons.

“Another new service to be offered E-Billing. This electronic based billing system would provide an automated billing system where customers will be billed according to the manifested amount of cargo and containers handled.”