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The role of Malaysian dry ports in the container seaport system

posted on 2023-05-27, 20:39 authored by Jeevan, J
The concepts of intermodal logistics and distribution networks have made integration of the inland freight distribution system essential for an efficient container seaport system. The inland components, such as dry ports, which exist within the seaport system, have become important in shaping the performance and competitive strategies of container seaports. In Malaysia, several dry ports have been developed and operated since 1984, but they have not been utilised well. The increase of container trade in Malaysian container seaports however has created an opportunity for dry ports to be a logistic node to facilitate container flows between inland and seaports. Owing to the importance of interdependence between dry ports and container seaports, research on dry port development and operations has increasingly drawn the attention of scholars during the last decade.Nevertheless there have not been any empirical studies undertaken in the Malaysian context, neither on how dry ports development enhances the competitiveness of container seaports. This thesis thus aims to investigate how dry port development in Malaysia has enhanced the competitiveness of the container seaport system. This research has adopted a mixed method research methodology by employing semi-structured face-to-face interviews in the qualitative phase and online surveys in the quantitative phase. Face-to face interviews explored the role, objectives, functions, benefits, strengths and challenges of Malaysian dry ports in the container seaport system. A total of 11 interviews with seaport and dry port operators, government bodies, and the rail operator were conducted. The findings show that there are three major roles of Malaysian dry ports: as an extended seaport, as regional intermodal nodes and as an interface terminal inland. The primary objectives of dry ports are to accelerate national and international trade, activate intermodalism in the nation, improve seaport competitiveness, enhance regional economic development and establish Malaysian port policy. Malaysian dry ports also have several functions including logistics, transport, value adding service provision and administration functions to assist seaports and their clients. In addition to benefiting container seaports, dry ports provide benefits to users by reducingwaiting times at seaports, providing clearance systems, reducing freight costs, facilitating cross border transactions and reducing empty container movements. Other findings in the qualitative phase include discovering the strengths and challenges of Malaysian dry ports. These are location, involvement of the public and private sectors, and the availability of transport connectivity. Currently, however Malaysian dry ports are not being fully utilised owing to many challenges faced by them. These include issues related to transportation infrastructure and operation, container planning, competition, location and local communities. For executing their roles and functions, Malaysian dry ports should possess sufficient operational infrastructure, professional personnel and capital infrastructure which can be harmonised with container seaports and other components within the container seaport system. In the quantitative phase, the online survey aimed at examining factors influencing dry port operations and how these impact the competitiveness of container seaports. At this stage, hauliers, freight forwarders, shippers, shipping lines, seaport operators and the rail operator have been selected to participate in the survey. The EFA results show seven factors influencing dry port operations: information sharing, service features, capacity, government policy, hinterland conditions, location and administration. The results show that dry port operations have clear impacts on seaport competitiveness. These include enhancing seaport performance, increasing service variations for seaports, improving seaport-hinterland proximity, increasing seaport trade volume and enhancing seaport capacity. The outcomes also reveal that these seven factors affect seaport competitiveness by enhancing seaport performance, increasing service variations for seaports and improving seaport-hinterland proximity. Malaysian dry ports have some opportunities for future developmentfor the purpose of serving container seaport systems. These include the accessibility to international transportation networks and the availability of international and national economic development plans. The strategies for utilising the above opportunities are provided in this thesis, such as developing transport infrastructure, enforcing information sharing between key players, generating teamwork between seaports and dry ports, developing a network among the dry ports, location pooling, developing dry port marketing plans, introduction of safety and security systems in dry port operations, ensuring a balanced development in freight transport and others. Academically, this research enhances the literature of dry port development in the Malaysian context. Furthermore, this research examined the relationship between dry ports and container seaport competitiveness. It validated the factors of dry port operations to seaport competitiveness. This research is a cross-sectional research combines two broad topics, dry ports and container seaport competitiveness, and comprehensive research on examining the relationship between dry ports and container seaport competitiveness. This research contributes to methodological development in dry port and container seaport competitiveness research by formulating the strengths of the qualitative method in developing a robust base for a quantitative approach. The contributions of this thesis relating to the methodological development of research on dry ports and container seaport competitiveness are threefold: the introduction of the mixed method research to maritime studies, the integration of qualitative and quantitative results in a single piece of research, and the development of an innovative methodology for dry ports and container seaport research. From a managerial perspective, this thesis explicitly elaborates the roles, functionalities and objectives of dry ports in the Malaysian container seaport system. It helps to provide clear guidance for dry port stakeholders to be aware of the importance of Malaysian dry ports so as to utilise such intermodal terminals. Recommended strategies by this thesis provide references to policy makers and stakeholders for improving dry port operations, attracting more freight and enhancing seaport competitiveness.


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Copyright 2016 the author Paper 2 of appendix F appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Jeevan, J., Chen, S. L., Lee, E. S., 2015. The challenges of Malaysian dry ports development, The Asian journal of shipping and logistics, 31(1), 109-134, under a Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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