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Charting a course for success

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has played a key role in developing a world-class maritime centre.

A "forward looking" philosophy and longer-term investment in R&D and technology have significantly helped to promote more efficient and sustainable shipping, says Mr Tan.

THE formula for success for Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) lies in its pro-enterprise focus in engaging the industry to maintain the Republic's position as one of the leading maritime centres in the world.

In the last five years in particular, MPA has consistently achieved top spot in the annual Pro-Enterprise Ranking Survey across public sector agencies.

Some recent initiatives include the Tripartite efforts to develop a steady pipeline of skilled workforce for the maritime sector even before the SkillsFuture Initiative, the rollout of major industry initiatives such as Mass Flow Meters and LNG bunkering, the recently formed IMC 2030 Advisory Committee to chart the future directions as an international maritime centre, as well as the Safety@Sea Campaign with industry partners to promote a culture of safety. This strategy of engagement has produced results, with incident rates within the port among the lowest on record. Meanwhile, on the international front Singapore is recognised as a key player on international maritime issues.

"Singapore's significant contributions towards advancing the efforts of the international maritime community was recognised when in 2015, Singapore was re-elected into the IMO Council for a 12th consecutive term with a record number of votes," says MPA chief executive Andrew Tan.

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In addition, MPA has been sharing its maritime experience with many developing and developed countries, and helping to train leaders in these countries.

In 2014, the MPA Academy was repositioned to be a full-fledged academy with a focus on global maritime leadership training.


Mr Tan reiterates that the close partnership MPA developed with its stakeholders - industry players and associations, unions and institutes of higher learning - are the critical elements towards port-organisational excellence and global recognition.

Winning the Singapore Quality Award (SQA), on the occasion of MPA's 20th anniversary, reflects the confidence in the sustained efforts in driving the maritime industry towards greater excellence. He says: "We see SQA not as an end in itself but an on-going journey towards organisational excellence. By working closely with the industry and adopting a tripartite approach towards tackling challenges in the maritime industry, we have found this an effective strategy that differentiates Singapore from other maritime clusters."

He notes that the MPA has come a long way since it was formed 20 years ago. Maritime Singapore's growth has been synonymous with the efforts of MPA working with the industry in developing this key sector of the economy that contributes some 7 per cent to GDP, comprises more than 5,000 companies and generates 170,000 jobs.

"Singapore is today the world's busiest port in terms of vessel calls, the world's largest transhipment hub and second largest container port after Shanghai," he says. Singapore is also the world's largest bunkering port with the world's fifth largest ship registry. Earlier this year, the country was named 'Best Seaport in Asia' for the 28th time.

A "forward looking" philosophy and longer-term investment in R&D and technology, through the Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund and through the research funding under the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) have significantly helped to promote more efficient and sustainable shipping.

Mr Tan notes that from the early venture into containerisation in the 1970s to the commissioning of Pasir Panjang Terminals Phases 3 & 4 last year by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, MPA has taken a "long term approach to developing our port".


Work has also started on the Next-Generation Port in Tuas. When completed, it will be able to handle up to 65 million TEUs - double the current capacity - while freeing up precious waterfront space in the city.

"This port will be built to higher specifications - it will be more efficient, intelligent, secure and environmentally sustainable. This move has sent a strong and positive signal to the industry that we are committed to the long term."

Beyond the port, Mr Tan says MPA has built up a diverse maritime cluster. He explains: "Today, Singapore is a vibrant International Maritime Centre (IMC) comprising maritime financial institutions, insurance companies, P&I Clubs, law firms and classification societies to service the shipping companies and their operations in Singapore."