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Muara is a town in the north-easternmost part of Brunei-Muara District, Brunei. It is officially known in Malay as Pekan Muara (literally 'Muara Town') but administered as a village-level subdivision under the mukim or subdistrict of Serasa; Muara has no municipal body. It is home to Muara Port, the main and only deep-water port of the country. The postcode for Muara is BT1128.
Old commercial area of Muara
Muara can be found in Mukim Serasa and is located on the easternmost tip of West Brunei. It lends its name to the district which it is in, the Brunei-Muara district. To the North is the South China Sea, to the south the Brunei Bay, and across the bay, Pulau Muara Besar. To the east, across a man-made channel, the remains of Tanjung Pelumpong (Cape Pelumpong), is now an island. The rest of the Brunei-Muara district is situated on the west side. Serasa lies to the south-west of Muara.
For the purpose of this article, Muara includes the area from Kampong Sabun to the channel at Tanjung Pelumpong north of Serasa.
Rapid development was seen in the area for Serai Pumping for coal extraction in 1883, for steamships; later the area settlement was developed and named Brooketon by Charles Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, in 1889. Brooketon was named after the White Rajahs of Sarawak gradually lent its name to the area which was then controlled by the government of Sarawak.
The development of the Brooketon Colliery coal mine also lead to transport and infrastructure development at Muara. A wooden railway was built to transport the coal to the safe deep-water anchorage at Muara, and wharves and jetties were built to allow steamships and barges to berth. By 1911, more than 1,447 people lived in Muara and some 30 shops had opened in the town. Brooketon was also where the first postage stamp in Brunei was used.
Although he only had economic rights, Brooke became the de facto political ruler of the area. The mine employed hundreds of miners and that required him to introduce a police force, post office and roads transforming Muara into an extraterritorial settlement an extension of Sarawak. It was not until 1921 that Muara was "returned" to Brunei. The mine closed in 1924 because of heavy financial losses caused by continuously decreasing coal prices in the world economic recession.
The Japanese occupied Brunei during Second World War and attempted unsuccessfully to reopen the coal mine. Brooketon was the landing location of the Australian forces as part of the Borneo Campaign (1945) at the end of the Second World War which liberated Brunei from Japanese occupation.
Under the rule of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, the area was developed into a deepwater port to assist in the development of the country. Since 1973, Muara Port has undergone extensive improvements. These include extensions to the wharf bringing the total length to 948 meters including 250 meters dedicated container wharf and 87 metres aggregate wharf. The overall storage space in the form of covered storage is 16,950 square meters, long storage warehouses 16,630 square meters and open storage space 5 hectares. Facilities for the dedicated container wharf covers an area of 92,034 square meters including 8,034 square metres covered areas.
Oil and GasEdit
Part of the deepwater port of Muara is occupied by two Royal Dutch Shell petroleum facilities.
Brunei Shell Marketing has a large presence in Muara with its Muara Terminal. There are numerous bottled gas containers on the site and a number of tanks holding various products including bitumen.
Brunei Shell Petroleum has a yard along Muara Port to support their offshore operations offshore in Brunei. The jetty measures 120 metres by 48 metres and equipped with three loading facilities and 14 storage tanks.
The main attraction of Pekan Muara is Muara beach (Pantai Muara in Malay) along South China Sea. The beach is about a mile long and consists of clear white sand. Amenities here include a well-equipped picnic area, a children's playground, changing and toilet facilities, as well as weekend food and drink stalls.
The Royal Brunei Navy of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces is based in the Muara Naval Base which is located in Pekan Muara in the Tanjong Pelumpong area. The Naval Base was expanded in 1997 to include facilities to support three offshore support vessels.
Jalan Muara is the main road that passes through Pekan Muara. It originates in Mukim Berakas near the Brunei International Airport and terminates at the artificial channel at Tanjong Pelumpong. It connects Muara town to Bandar Seri Begawan.
Jalan Serasa and Jalan Persuahan branches off from Jalan Muara and connects Muara with the neighbouring community of Serasa. It enables the items manufactured in the Serasa Industrial area to be transported to Muara Port for export.
The only deepwater port of Brunei is located in Muara. Muara Port was opened for commercial operations in February 1973, and commissioned as the Ports Department on 1 May 1974. The Ports Department took over the whole management and operations of all the Ports on 1 January 1986, form the Royal Customs and Excise Department.
The Muara Container Terminal was operated by the PSA International until 1 April 2007, when it reverted to the Brunei Government. It had one container berth with a quay length of 250m and a max draft of 12.5m.
There is an existing plan to further develop the port by the Brunei Economic Development Board, including further dredging of the Muara Cut, the construction of additional port facilities on Pulau Muara Besar and linking the latter to the mainland with a bridge.
From May 2009, International Container Terminal Service Inc (ICTSI) based in Manila, Philippines, set up a subsidiary New Muara Container Terminal Service Sdm Bhd (NMCTS) to operate the Muara Container Terminal. August 2009, Chinese destroyer Guangzhou made a goodwill visit to Muara Port from Manado.
In early 2017, Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture company of Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd and Beibu Gulf Holding(Hong Kong) Co.,Ltd., will take over the operation of the terminal.
The port is part of the Maritime Silk Road that runs from the Chinese coast to the south via Singapore towards the southern tip of India, to Mombasa, then through the Red Sea via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, there via Athens to the Upper Adriatic region to the northern Italian hub of Trieste with its rail connections to Central Europe and the North Sea.
There are no airports in Muara. Commercial travellers would have to travel to either Bandar Seri Begawan or Labuan (from Serasa) to catch a commercial flight.
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