LABUAN (Bernama) – 2014 has been an exciting year for the duty-free island of Labuan in terms of economic growth and social development.
Sustainable growth has become the focus of Labuan’s development since its elevation to a Federal Territory in 1984, driven mainly by various sectors and industries that have generated income to the country.
Formerly an island stopover that relied upon fisheries, Labuan is now a regional oil and gas hub, playing host to several world’s leading companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton as well as local leaders such as SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad, Scomi Group Bhd and Dayang Enterprise Holdings Bhd.
It has also turned into a ship fabrication centre, offering shipping engineering services, with Labuan Shipyard Engineering making its mark as Asia’s largest shipping company. Member of Parliament for Labuan Datuk Rozman Isli said Labuan Corporation was tasked with charting the course of the island’s economic and social development that put people at centre stage.
Among major development projects accomplished in 2014 were a maritime communication system, business community and local entrepreneurial economic clusters, tourism recreational development, and major strides in the education sector.
“Efforts are now geared towards providing more jobs for local youths in the oil and gas sector to reduce our dependence on external expertise.
“These include efforts to get industry players and local educational institutions to conduct short-term full-time and part-time skill courses for local youths,” he told Bernama.
One of the collaborations in the pipeline is between Labuan ShipyardEngineering and the Industrial Training Institute under the Ministry of Human Resources.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has also proposed the setting up of faculties of engineering and oil and gas at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Labuan International Campus to cater to the needs of the industry in Labuan.
The involvement of over 80 local and foreign companies in the oil and gas industry in Labuan has created business opportunities, including support services.
As Labuan is still dependent on sea routes and waterways, apart from air transport, to ply people and goods to the mainland of Sabah as well as Sarawak and Brunei (through Sabah), two more ferry services had been added, namely Putrajaya and Kimanis 1.
Labuan Mainland Link Sdn Bhd, the operator of Putrajaya, is expected to add another ferry next year. For traders, the newly completed Labuan Market Complex, built at the cost of RM30 million, is a boon for them. It has dedicated bus and taxi terminals for the benefit of customers.
The Labuan Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), set for launch next year, puts a feather in traders’ cap. The UTC provides integrated government services to the people under one roof.
In sports and recreation, the completion of the RM30 million Labuan International Golf Club is a restful sojourn for golfers, expatriates and locals to relax amid a green setting bordered by magnificent view of the South China Sea. It had staged several international tournaments since its opening last year.