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Westports anticipates low single-digit growth in box throughput in 2021

MALAYSIAN port operator Westports says it expects a low single-digit growth rate in container throughput in 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic showing little signs of abating

03 February 2021 - 19:00
MALAYSIAN port operator Westports says it expects a low single-digit growth rate in container throughput in 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic showing little signs of abating.

However, group managing director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said the realistic target could be higher if the situation improved. But, if the current unprecedented crisis persisted, the global supply chain could continue to be disrupted.



In a interview with the New Straits Times, he said: 'Things are not going to recover very fast. But some areas are going to recover and some will not. Therefore, I believe there will be slower growth than anticipated for 2021.'



Westports' container throughput eased about 3 per cent to 10.5 million TEU last year, from 10.9 million TEU recorded in 2019, due to lower transshipment volume.



Mr Ruben said Westports might record or surpass the pre-Covid-19 level beginning in 2022 once the country's economy began to fully recover, backed by the government's Covid-19 vaccines programme and containment measures to combat the pandemic.



'Previously, a lot of consumptions were being held back. I believe the recovery will be driven by consumption. I do not think consumption will bounce back as quickly in 2021, but rather it will bounce back stronger beginning 2022. Hence, we predict a small growth in TEU this year but stronger growth next year.'



He said Westports would set aside between MYR400 million (US$98.9 million) and MYR500 million in capital expenditure for the financial year ending December 31, 2021 to acquire quay cranes and build a new yard.



The investments will raise the total terminal handling capacity from about 13.5 million to 15 million TEU by the end of 2023 with the net addition of seven more quay cranes.


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