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Korea set to privatise ports

SOUTH Korea will start privatising the operations of its 27 ports, including Pusan and Inchon, at the end of this year to improve their productivity.

Under proposals drawn up by the Korea Maritime and Port Administration (KMPA), operation rights for port facilities will be granted to private companies by the end of next year.

These facilities in the past have been operated by the KMPA or municipal port authorities.

KMPA officials said a wharf operator system will be introduced under which the government will lease wharves to private stevedoring firms on short-term or long-term contracts.

The government will be responsible for building the infrastructure and for maintaining law and order at the wharves.

The government is said to be considering open tenders or negotiated contracts to select wharf operators, with contracts ranging from one to 10 years.

A KMPA official said that if the system was put in operation, port users will be able to cut their distribution costs significantly.

At the end of last year, 137 firms were engaged in handling cargo at the 27 ports, including 13 at Pusan and 10 at Inchon.