Northport traces its origins to the historic Port Swettenham and it is from here that the port flourished and developed from its humble beginnings in 1901. Coastal streamers were trading between the Straits Settlements and Selangor in the 1800s, calling at a small port off Port Klang, then 19km up the muddy Klang River where only ships drawing less that 3.9m of water could come up the jetty. The transformation of the port with plans and developments of better port facilities and infrastructure began when the river port thrived as trade increased.
September 15, 1901 saw the official opening of Port Swettenham (named after a High Commissioner for the Malay State), which developed as a new port after a study found that it's coastal area had a harbor with deep anchorage, free from dangers and very suitable for wharves. Its development was accelerated further with the extension of a railway line from Kuala Lumpur to the new port.
In the same year when all the work was completed, the port facilities were handed over to the Ways and Works Department of the Malayan Railway Administration (MRA) who was made responsible for the port and its administration.
From Coastal to Ocean Port
Between 1901 and 1910, trade grew rapidly and two ocean berths were made to meet increasing demand for more facilities. Upon completion of the berths in 1914, it was added to the other existing facilities, which included three wharves, go-downs, railway sidings, Customs house, warehouses and other port facilities.
In 1926, trade began to pick up again after the slump during World War 1. The tonnage recorded in 1929 became the second highest before World War II. Trade then slumped during the Great Depression of 1931-33 and peaked again in 1940 when tonnage rose to 550,000 tonnes. Rice and foodstuff formed the major imports with exports consisting of rubber, tin, copra and other products. World War II brought great destruction to the port's facilities and the immediate post-war period was one of reconstruction.
An important post-war development was the expansion of the area to the south of the port for permanent installations to handle palm oil in bulk and latex, two increasingly important exports. Imports also grew tremendously to keep pace with the country's development needs. Overall, tonnage of cargo handled at the port far exceeded what was thought possible before the war.
One Million Tonnes Achievement
In 1955, the port's throughput touched the one million tonne mark for the first time in its history. The 1960's witnessed the dawning of a new era for the port.
There was a paramount need for additional and better deepwater harbour facilities. In the same year, the construction of a new deepwater port at North Klang Straits begun and thus, Northport was born.
For some time, the port's rapid growth had prompted calls for a separate administration. So the Railway formed the Port Swettenham Advisory Board (PSAB) to advise on the administration of the port.
Port Klang Authority (PKA)
On July 1 1963, a milestone in the new era for Port Klang was established. The management of the port passed from the Malayan Railway to the newly established Port Swettenham Authority, which subsequently was changed to Port Klang Authority (PKA).
The port then provided about 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in operational activities such as cargo handling, pilotage, fire services, security, shipping and forwarding at the North and South Ports. It was a far cry from the days when the only labour force was contract labour.
PKA Commenced Commercial Operations
In 1964, PKA commenced commercial operations with the completion of four new berths. KPA took over all cargo handling services, previously provided by three private labour contractors. With the absorption of the private companies' employees, the PKA's population swelled to over 5,550, making it the single largest employer in the Klang area.
Containerization in Malaysia
In June 1972, construction of the RM87 million container terminal was completed. Facilities included an 853m wharf (comprising 3 berths), a container freight station, three warehouses, three quay cranes and eight straddle carriers. In August the same year, the world's first third-generation containership, the Tokyo Bay, arrived in Port Klang, marking the beginning of containerization in Malaysia.
In November 1972, Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak declared the container terminal open and in May 1974, the Second North Port Extension project, which involved the construction of six more berths for break bulk cargo and a dry bulk cargo terminal began. The project was implemented in two phases. The first phase involved the construction of three berths (No. 16 - 18) and a dry bulk cargo wharf. Phase two involved the construction of another three break bulk berths (N. 19 - 21). Phase one was completed in 1977.
Phase Two of Extension Project
In November 1980, work began on phase two of the Second North Port Extension project involving the construction of three more break-bulk cargo berths (No. 19 - 21) at the cost of RM55 million. Construction was completed in 1983. In October, 1982, construction works on the RM8 million liquid bulk terminal in North Port was completed.
First Phase of Privatisation
On March 17, 1986, PKA's container terminal became the first major port facility to be privatized. The new operator of the terminal was Klang Container Terminal, a private company with equity held by the PKA (49%) and Konnas Terminal Klang (51%).
Second Phase of Privatisation
In January, 1988, construction work began on a new 244-meter berth, No. 15, as an alternative to the immediate development of West Port. In December, 1992, Klang Port Management (KPM) took over the rest of the port services from PKA under the second phase of the privatization programme and on 26th August, 1993, KPM's container terminal, Klang Port Container Terminal (KPCT), commenced operation. In October, 1998, merger between KCT and KPM entered into an operational collaboration under the NORTHPORT banner with the launch of the new logo to symbolize the alliance.
The History Of Container