Port development in Asia: Ensuring project delivery and economic competitiveness

Cargo ships entering one of the globally busiest ports in Singapore. For a port with a hub status like this, spatial planning and channel depth maintenance are extremely crucial; Image by anek.soowannaphoom/Shutterstock

By Hafida Fahmiasari

Based on the initial condition, port development can be categorised into a greenfield and a brownfield project, which refers to a brand new and revitalisation project respectively. Both play a key role in the economy as 90 per cent of the world’s trade occurs in the maritime lane. Asia is currently championing global port infrastructure development. In 2018, Asia made up 70 per cent of the market share of global port container traffic[1]. Port of Shanghai is moving more volume than the top five ports in the US combined. China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative will connect 70 countries’ ports and railways to link up their overland routes for more seamless road and rail transportation.

In East Asia, the hub ports in Hong Kong and Singapore remain leaders in the business thanks to their effective operations and maintenance. While development is continuing steadily in these two countries, limited site areas remain a challenge and reclamation could be prone to demarcation issues. Meanwhile, other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, are expected to continue their development, not only of their ports but also their infrastructure and transportation facilities in general, with budgets being increased substantially in the coming years. However, such massive and multilayered development begs a question of whether the master planning has been done thoroughly.

Considering the important role of port functionality, as well as the current development frenzy in Southeast Asia, this commentary looks at how projects are being delivered in the region; how to ensure their success rate; and how ports can remain competitive in the ever-changing global market.

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Hafida Fahmiasari

Hafida Fahmiasari is a Transport Specialist at International Finance Corporation, The World Bank Group, Washington D.C, the United States of America. Previously, she worked at Royal HaskoningDHV, Jakarta, as a Port Economist, providing transport economics and modelling expertise for projects in four continents: Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Prior to that, she was a Maritime Transport Consultant at the World Bank, Jakarta Office. Farmiasari holds a Master’s degree of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Logistics from Technische Universiteit Delft, the Netherlands, with a concentration in transport economics and policy. Her master thesis focused on the logistics cost reduction by applying dry port concept. She obtained a dual Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia; and in International Civil Engineering Management from Hanzehogeschool Groningen, the Netherlands. Fahmiasari’s expertise includes port network analysis using Global Marine Vessel big data; and she has published articles in both mass media and scholarly journals, covering topics such as port network modelling and green ports.

– Construction+ Online