HO CHI MINH CITY: Indonesia will prioritize building 14 seaports to support the Asean Connectivity by 2015.
The ports are Belawan (Medan), Dumai, Palembang, Panjang (Bandar Lampung), Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Tanjung Emas (Semarang), Tanjung Perak (Surabaya), Pontianak, Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, Makassar, Bitung, Sorong, and Jayapura ports.
Deputy Minister of Transportation Bambang Susantono revealed such a priority-setting would make it easier for Indonesia to have access to the cash fund of the Asean to build the ports. Moreover, he added, Indonesia would also welcome financing from other parties. He added that several member countries were now committed to allocating a total fund of US$647.2 million to the Asean coffers to implement connectivity in Southeast Asia. "Actually, the Asean cash fund only serves as a catalyst. If the development projects are considered priority projects, the impacts will be huge since other countries, like Japan and China, will be willing to help with funds." Bambang, who is also a member of the High-Level Task Force for the Asean Connecticity, told this after the Socialization of the 2015 Asean Connectivity Master Plan in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) last week. In the master plan, the Asean appoints 14 ports in Indonesia to be involved in improving goods traffic in Southeast Asia to support the connectivity of Asean countries starting 2015. The 14 Indonesian ports will be included on the list of 47 major ports in Southeast Asia appointed by the Asean. He disclosed the 47 major ports would be connected and would find their standard of operation uniformed to improve goods traffic in Southeast Asia. He added the Asean had so far only named the major ports, but had not yet chosen which ones would be prioritized to be developed. The Asean had also not yet discussed the possibility of cutting some license-granting process. "Therefore, the government will ask the 14 ports to be prioritized. The impacts will be huge. As to the master plan, it is flexible and may change."Bambang continued Indonesia would also fight for improved connectivity in the maritime sector by, among others, naming shipping companies to serve goods shipment in Southeast Asia. The proposal, he inserted, was supposed by the Philippines, one of the leading countries in the maritime sector. "Indonesia suggests some national shipping companies be considered Asean-owned companies, so they can have some privileges. In this way, Indonesia's maritime sector will be stronger since our 14 ports have been named major ports." Supporting infrastructures In the meantime, Chief Economist of the Economic Research Institute For Asean and East Asia (Eria) Fukunari Kimura disclosed each Southeast Asian country had to further develop its transportation infrastructures, such as airport, harbor, and highway. In the port infrastructure, he added, the Asean countries had to increase port capacity by expanding the capacity of cargo handling and container terminal handling. "At airport, there should be more runways, airplane hangars, and passenger. In addition, airlines also need to add more routes and airplanes. Last but not least, the air navigation systems among the Asean countries have to be harmonized." Next year, Indonesia will serve to helm the Asean Connectivity Coordinator Committee (ACCC), which is a committee established to supervise the implementation of the Asean Connectivity master plan. Bambang told the government would use the opportunity as the leader of the ACCC to include six national economic corridors into the master plan in a bid to obtain various sources of financing. Indonesia itself will host the perfection of the master plan. Previously, the master plan was drafted in Vietnam. Bambang Susantono added the master plan was expected to give a solution to make connectivity among Southeast Asian countries easier. (wiw)
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