Canceled $10.5bn Malaysia port project plays down China role

Canceled $10.5bn Malaysia port project plays down China role

Melaka Gateway faced scrutiny amid rising number of Belt and Road deals

MALACCA — On a vast artificial island off the coast of Malaysia where a $10.5 billion development has been taking shape, barricades bar entry to all but a select few private vehicles.

Inside the perimeter of the Melaka Gateway project, reclamation works are underway to complete a modern cruise terminal for extra-large ships. Other land allotted for a ferry terminal, commercial and property developments has been reclaimed from the Straits of Malacca, one of the world’s most important seaways.

Mounds upon mounds of sand are scattered across the island. Further away, another land reclamation project is taking place for a second island. The entire project was expected to be completed in 10 years.

Any signs of progress, however, have not been enough to satisfy the state government of Malacca — a tourism hub less than 90 minutes by road from the center of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.

In late November authorities canceled the land reclamation contract awarded to KAJ Development after four years of “no development,” leaving doubts as to how long it might be before the hoped-for stream of ships and commercial traffic shows up.