A big SCORE for Bintulu
BINTULU is on the brink of a greater transformation towards a friendly Industrial city by 2020 with the implementation of various projects under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) general manager Datu Mohidin Ishak said the Samalaju Industrial Park is currently moving towards becoming a rising heavy industrial area.
Without doubt, he added, all these industries — with multiple international companies setting up their core investments in Samalaju – are opening up job and business opportunities across the state.
He remembered Bintulu was a fishing village in the early 1960’s with a population of only a few thousand people but not surprisingly, those old timers still around to witness the transformation, might not think the population is now more than 200,000 people — and rising.
As the rapid growth is fuelled by the oil and gas industry, the third boom in industrial development in Bintulu is largely through the various heavy industries as well as downstream activities generated from SCORE.
Mohidin said spin-off opportunities would be created from the downstream industries for the local players.
“As BDA and the people are sharing the same vision of having a friendly industrial city, the development planning of the town is taking multiple factors into consideration and not solely focusing on physical development.
“A bustling industrial town of Bintulu will also be a focal point for those seeking entertainment and leisure activities,” he added.
Bintulu is also one of the places in Sarawak that annually organises international events that attract not only locals but also foreign tourists.
“It’s a good sign and I believe Bintulu is moving forward fast with all the development in Samalaju and soon, there will also be a development in Samarakan, Tatau.
“We are proceeding with another mega project — pulp mill at Samarakan — so in the next six months, you will see development in that area.
“Development in Samalaju and some other expansion projects called Train 9 in Kidurong under Petronas will all constitute an interesting moment for Bintulu,” Mohidin said.
Train 9 with a total investment of more than RM10 billion will be able to produce an additional 3.6 million metric tonnes of LNG per annum.
Mohidin noted that diversification of major industries and projects in Bintulu would further boost the economic growth in the Division.
He said a new deepwater port in Samalaju would be dedicated to heavy industries, serving the aluminium and manganese smelting plants, and other such industries located in SCORE.
Located only three km from the sea, the port will be able to provide the best possible service to the sector.
“Once fully operational, the economic development projected for the area is capable of providing locals with 30,000 jobs, of which 50 per cent is for skilled workers,” he added.
Mohidin believed this would drive Bintulu in the direction of becoming a high-income society.
Moreover, Bintulu has also been identified as one of the prime areas for Sarawak’s palm oil industry development.
Once fully developed, the palm oil industry will offer new investors even more opportunities in downstream activities that can be clustered around the plantations, the port facilities and refineries.
The Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) project in Bintulu is expected to attract investments totalling RM600 million within five to seven years.
Delivering a paper on Opportunities of Oil Palm in Sarawak recently, BDA officer Adi Asad opined that the implementation of POIC was timely in view of the high number of oil palm plantation activities in the region.
In the Bintulu hinterland alone, about 250,000 hectares have been cultivated with oil palm so far.
POIC is located in close proximity to the Bintulu deepsea port and bulker facilities which span about 150 acres to serve as a centralised zone of sorts for the oil palm downstream industries.
There are now four approved projects for POIC in Bintulu undertaken by SOP Industries Sdn Bhd, JH Logistics Sdn Bhd, Cipta Sawit Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Land (Kemena Park) Sdn Bhd.
SOP Industries is into the production of RBD palm olein, crude palm kernel, oil (CPKO), RBD palm stearin, palm kernel cake-expeller (PKE), palm bio diesel and crude glycerol, while JH Logistics is into the processing of palm oil kernel, kernel cake and packaging.
Cipta Sawit focuses on the processing of palm oleochemicals for cosmetics and toiletries, while Sarawak Land (Kemena Park) deals with the processing of palm oil related products.
With the big influx of expatriates involved in the development of energy-intensive industries in Samalaju, there is a strong demand for quality accommodation.
This scenario has suddenly made the town one of the places with expensive housing and properties in the market.
Mohidin had earlier cautioned this side effect was inevitable due to the economic growth but pointed out that there was possibility to minimise the increase in prices.
The pricey property has caused most of the people with average income to call for help due to their inability to get housing loans from banks.
Even the minister concerned is aware of the impact and has promised to look for a suitable approach to address the issue.
Mohidin said the only way to keep up with the pace of development was by equipping the young generation with knowledge and technical skills.
This might take time but with full preparation, the people will be able to cope with the drastic changes and growth to survive in a competitive environment.
BDA, being a development and local authority, should be committed to managing the advancement of Bintulu in partnership with its people.
In this regard, the aim is to transform Bintulu town into a friendly and sustainable city through the provision of quality physical, social and economic development services.
BDA’s structural development and functionality would also be diversified towards this goal, Mohidin revealed
“Time will tell but for sure, fruition of the transformation process will come in another generation to lead BDA to even greater heights in future,” he added.