THE Malaysian port of Johor plans to persuade shipping lines to introduce direct calls from its berths to the United States in the near future, instead of transshipping its cargo through the ports of Hongkong, Singapore and Kaohsiung. Johor Port director Yahya Abdul Ghani said the port, which recorded a 33 per cent rise in container throughput to 128,558 TEUs (20 ft equivalent units) last year, planned to do this once its cargo volumes reached substantial levels. Johor port, he said, was not competing with the ports in the region such as Singapore and Hongkong which were very advanced. ''We are in a different league but nevertheless we will get there through the support of shippers and shipping lines,'' he said. But Mr Yahya admitted that the port of Johor was in competition with other smaller ports and had to improve its services to meet the demand of users. ''If we do not take care of our customers, it would mean disaster to us and we have to keep abreast with our surroundings,'' he added. Mr Yahya said out of the total container traffic through Johor port last year, 38 per cent was international cargo, 27 per cent comprising Far East cargo and 11 per cent US cargo. Johor's biggest market is the Far East, the US second followed by Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. ''The port is thinking of a second port in Tanjung Pelepas to supplement existing growth and to meet new opportunities in the future,'' he said. ''At the moment we are carrying out investigations so as to have a feeling of what a second port will look like, whether it will be totally an island or reclaimed land or an extension of existing land,'' Mr Yahya said. The study also would look at other technical issues and propose the future course of action, he added. Soil investigation was also being carried out at the site and when the study was completed in a few months time, the conception of the port would take shape, Mr Yahya said. In making the announcement that Tanjung Pelepas would be the site of Johor's second port earlier this year, Malaysian Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik said it was important that the port, unlike Johor port, had sufficient space to expand. ''Our projections show Pasir Gudang would not be able to cope with cargo demands before the end of the decade,'' he said. Johor was progressing at a strong pace and it was important that all infrastructural facilities not end up in a bottleneck situation, he added. Johor, traditionally, a major port handling liquid bulk cargo in Malaysia, said it handled 1.49 million tonnes of liquid bulk during the first quarter of this year, compared with 1.33 million tonnes during the same period last year. With industrialisation playing a more important role in the economics of the southern states of Malaysia, Negri Sembilan and Johor, more manufactured goods are now shipped in containers. Work on the construction of an additional 710-metre, deep-water berth under the Johor port expansion programme was progressing well, Mr Yahya said. He said a back-up area of 180,000 square metres also was planned to facilitate container stacking together with a jetty to handle hazardous cargo. The fourth phase programme was expected to be completed by mid-1995.