SINGAPORE: The future Tuas mega port presents Singapore with an opportunity to "rethink the future of shipping", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (Oct 3).
Speaking at an event marking the groundbreaking of the future container terminal, Mr Lee noted the mega port will also see Singapore's port capacity double from the 36 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) it can currently handle annually.
"Officially Tuas is designed to handle 65 million TEUs, but I am sure PSA can squeeze a little more out of it if we work hard," he said.
When fully operational in the 2040s, the new port - expected to be the world’s single largest fully automated container terminal - will replace existing facilities at Tanjong Pagar, Pasir Panjang, Keppel and Pulau Brani.
But beyond scale, the development on a greenfield site allows for innovation and sustainability to be key features of the project, said Mr Lee.
Among the innovations the mega port will feature is a fleet of fully electric driverless automated guided vehicles to transport containers between the wharf and yard.
Currently being tested at the Pasir Panjang terminal, these vehicles have a carbon footprint 25 per cent smaller than that of conventional vehicles.
Meanwhile, automated rail-mounted gantry cranes – which are fully electric and use cameras and laser sensors for precision – will allow crane specialists to remotely supervise multiple cranes.
PSA International group chairman Peter Voser said the Tuas port presented the port operator with an opportunity to “reinvigorate and reimagine”.
"We look towards a future where these technologies can augment our operations and enhance supply chain orchestration," he said.
Mr Lee compared the Tuas port to Singapore's first container terminal at Tanjong Pagar - the first such facility in Southeast Asia when it opened in 1972.
The Tanjong Pagar terminal was met with scepticism by many – including the World Bank – when it was first built, he noted, but it eventually exceeded expectations and allowed Singapore to expand its container port.
"Building Tuas port and its ecosystem is an immense undertaking," said Mr Lee.
"But we can achieve this, if we have the same daring and ambition as our pioneer generation of port planners and engineers."
The groundbreaking was marked by a torch relay symbolising PSA's development, which went from the Tanjong Pagar terminal to the Keppel and Brani terminals.
The torch was then transported by prime mover to Pasir Panjang, before being conveyed to Tuas port by a flotilla of PSA Marine tugboats and harbour craft.
The first two berths of the Tuas port are expected to begin operations in 2021, when the construction of the first phase is expected to be completed.
The S$2.42 billion first phase will have 21 deep-water berths, which will allow it to handle about 20 million TEUs of cargo annually when it is fully operational in 2027.