MALACCA: Just how the RM12.5 billion Kuala Linggi International Port (KLIP) has been given the go-ahead to begin construction in the first quarter of next year has left experts, who deemed the project an environmental hazard, puzzled.

Experts reviewing the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) report on the proposed KLIP insist the Department of Environment (DoE) had rejected the report, based on its location.

Former International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Department of Engineering Associate Professor Dr Zaki Zainudin, who was in the team that review the report, confirmed that the team had agreed upon a consensus against the project.

The DEIA report was prepared by the proponent’s consultants.

“The main issue was the location. The port would be built on reclaimed land, which would form an island right at the river mouth of Sungai Linggi.

“The biggest concern is that this may disrupt the hydrodynamics and cause floods, which would affect towns and people upstream.

“We came to a consensus that the location was not suitable as it would disrupt the flow of water from the river, marine life and the livelihood of the people.

“Thus, I was shocked to see press reports that the project would start in the first quarter of next year, when our team (which review the DEIA report) had advised the DoE against it,” he told the New Straits Times.

The commencement of the project, announced by owners TAG Marine Sdn Bhd on Nov 28, with its managing director, Datuk Wira Noormustafa Kamal Yahya, also announcing the bulk of the funding would be from Chinese investors, will be an expansion of the Kuala Linggi Port, which opened in 2001.

The Kuala Linggi Port serves mainly the oil and gas industry, while the expansion would be to provide larger scale servicing facilities aimed at the more than 100,000 vessels transporting US$60 billion (RM266.5 billion) worth of trade through the Straits
of Malacca annually.

Noormustafa had said the project would provide 6,000 new jobs.

This, however, raised further question marks and public outcry over the excessive land reclamation along Malacca’s 70km-long coastline, with another project amassing land past Pulau Upeh, about 20km south of Kuala Linggi, allegedly causing dangerous levels of erosion at the coast along Tanjung Kling.

Along the coast of Malacca, public outcry is increasing as the once popular stretches of beaches in Klebang have disappeared, while the livelihoods of fishermen continue to be affected.

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, when contacted by the NST, ticked off the developers, stating that the project would only be allowed to continue when all standards were adhered to.

“Launching it is not a sign that work can commence.

“They can launch it a thousand times, but if the required documentation and standards are not met, the project will not be allowed to continue.” he said.

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The Kuala Linggi International Port will be built on reclaimed land, forming an island at the river mouth of Sungai Linggi in Malacca. Pix by Zunnur Al Shafiq
Kampung Hailam in Tanjung Kling, Malacca, where rapid erosion has endangered the livelihood of the people.