BMT and HKCTOA look to enhance Hong Kong’s position

BMT and HKCTOA look to enhance Hong Kong’s position
Hong Kong is in an increasingly competitive region

BMT Asia Pacific (BMT) and the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association (HKCTOA), have submitted reports aimed at enhancing Hong Kong’s position as an International Maritime Centre (IMC) and to improve the competitiveness of Kwai Tsing Container Port respectively.

The BMT strategic study, carried out on behalf of the Hong Kong Transport and Housing Bureau, plots a development roadmap and strategy to enable Hong Kong to remain a successful IMC in an increasingly competitive region.

The city’s role as an IMC is supported in China’s 12th National Five Year Plan and by Hong Kong’s chief executive, CY Leung, who recently reinforced his pledge to further strengthen the city’s position by ‘developing quality and international maritime services’.

BMT examined the context and economic significance of the city’s maritime cluster, as well as the key challenges facing it as an IMC. The findings, which were recently made available to the public, include strategies to maximise the development potential of key maritime activities and service areas, in particular the “contestable” services, which have been targeted by competing IMCs.

Dr Richard Colwill, managing director of BMT Asia Pacific commented: “Hong Kong has a rich maritime heritage and is home to a vibrant community of ship owners, ship managers and service providers engaged in a diverse range of activities spanning the industry”.

“The maritime sector plays a vital role in the local economy and recognising its strategic value, governments across the region have taken an interest in developing similar clusters, requiring Hong Kong to maximise its competitive advantage,” he added.

Yesterday (24th April) prominent shipping industry leaders in Hong Kong supported the recommendations set out in a White Paper submitted to the HK government by the HKCTOA in November 2013.

This explained the challenges and constraints currently faced, detailing a set of industry-wide solutions and timelines for action on improving the competitiveness of Kwai Tsing Container Port.

The paper called for government action to facilitate the optimal use of the existing land sites adjacent to the port for container storage, while developing more dedicated barge berths to increase port productivity.

The Association stressed that by addressing these issues the HK government could protect the port’s significant contribution to Hong Kong’s economic and social development. The port handled a total throughput volume in excess of 17m teu in 2013.

The paper stated that congestion at the port’s berths and storage areas at peak periods is the result of the increasing size of vessels, while container moves per vessel call are not increasing in proportion to the additional quay length being occupied.  Additionally, a 30% increase in Pearl River Delta barge transhipment over the past 10 years has resulted in a significant increase in the need for additional dedicated barge berths.

The HKCTOA suggested that parcels of land immediately adjacent to Container Terminal (CT) 9 South, CT9 North, CT8 West, as well as the waterfront site next to CT5, should be allocated for use as dedicated barge berths with direct access to the Port.

Pointing out that increasing barge traffic, along with the increase in vessel-to-vessel transhipment volumes that require longer storage periods, the Association stated that the port was built with an average of 14 ha of land per 400 m of berth.  This compares with the current international standard ratio for optimal performance of 25 ha per berth.

‘There are more than 100 ha of “container related use” land in the vicinity of the port but its allocation is currently uncoordinated and divided between different uses, some not related directly to the port.  The reservation of specific sites totaling some 70 has of backup land to support the port is recommended,’ states the White Paper.

The Association states that reducing congestion and increasing efficiency will benefit not only the port operations but all the sub-sectors within the industry.