Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the Port of Tanjung Api-Api in the regency of Banyuasin, South Sumatra, is to be operational in December, 2017.
Physical construction of the project is already completed, but the port basin is not yet safe for big ships, Budi said after a meeting on the port and the progress made in the construction of Light Rail Transit project (LRT) in the city of Palembang on Saturday.
The minister said the port basin is only 3.5 meter deep, therefore it still needs to be made deeper to be safe for big ships.
He said South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin also agreed with the decision to operate the new international seaport in December.
In addition the 60-kilometer long provincial highway linking the new port with the provincial city Palembang still needs repairs here and there, he said.
He said later Tanjung Api-Api will need to be linked with toll road and railways to facilitate the transport of cargoes to and from the international port.
The minister expressed optimism the port would help accelerate industrialization in South Sumatra and neighboring province of Jambi as it would serve as hub port for goods from the two provinces to be transported to Jakartas Tanjung Priok on the way to export market or other regions in the country.
Meanwhile, Sea Transport Director General A Tonny Budiono said the port would be able to accommodate 464 death-weight ship that could carry 50 TEUs of container cargoes.
Tonny said in the beginning the port would be operated by the Transport Ministry but later by phases it would be handed over to PT Pelindo II, the state-owned port operator based in Jakarta.
He said the port has yet to be equipped with cranes to load and unload cargoes including containers. Normally ships already have their own cranes , but work would be faster if the port would also have cranes, he added.
The quay of the port is 50×20 meters, the trestle is 118 X 8 meters and the causeway is 100 X 8 meters .
Construction of the port project cost around Rp178 billion with fund from the state budget.
The South Sumatra provincial administration contributed Rp48 billion for the construction of land supporting facility.
Palembang will co-host the next Asian games in 2018, therefore, the government hastens the completion of infrastructure including the sea port and the LRT project.