A new deepwater port nearing completion at Muara, Brunei, could make the tiny Sultanate (population 138,000) an important distribution centre for sea freight in the Indian Ocean.
A new deepwater port nearing completion at Muara, Brunei, could make the tiny Sultanate (population 138,000) an important distribution centre for sea freight in the Indian Ocean. Already two major shipping lines - Ben Line and P. & O. - have indicated their intention to use the facilities.
The new port will probably become an important depot for containers, where they can be leaded and unleaded for goods to be distributed to conven???ent Indian ???an ports which cannot handle container ships. These include Kota Kinabulu and Sandaken, where the wharves are too flimsy, and the Brunel capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, which lies 20 miles (32 kilometres) up a shallow, winding river. The new port stands in a 22-acre site where once there was only a small fishing village; miles of jungle have been cleared to build an associated township with schools, a hospital and full commercial and recreational amenities.
The building of Muara Port has been a multi-national operation. The initial survey was made by Mr Bohdan Nogorski, a United States citizen employed by the United Nations, who foresaw a future for the port in exporting logs and other Brunei produce, including paper pulp, bananas and sand - as well as the additional trading benefits which wold strengthen economic ties with Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, providing Brunei with direct connections with most foreign countries.
A British-based engineering firm - Sir Bruce White, Wolfe, Barry & Partners - designed the port, which will accommodate ships of up to 30,000 tons. Gammon-Yau Wing, a consortium of firms from Singapore and Hong Kong did the dredging, while Daito Construction, from Japan, were responsible for the wharf and civil works. A dredger from The Netherlands, the Belangkas, will work permanently on keeping the harbour and surrounding areas open.
Although the go-ahead for the port was given in 1963, work only began three years ago, and is now a years behind schedule because of a labour shortage and the fact that every piece of equipment has to be imported. There were also language difficulties as the supervising British consulting engineers could not speak Japanese, and the Japanese technicians had little knowledge of English or Malay. The Japanese have actually run into a loss on the project, but they say it was worth it to become established, with the prospect of more work in Brunei and neighbouring Borneo areas.