Container congestion at ports eases

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

CONGESTIONS at the country’s major ports following the Movement Control Order (MCO) have been relieved through several dismissal phases.

Thousands of containers carrying non-essential goods were stuck at the ports during the first phase of the MCO as the government restricted movements in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

As containers accumulated rapidly, the Transport Ministry ordered an amnesty period for those carrying non-essential goods to be released.

Port Klang Authority (PKA) GM Captain K Subramaniam (picture) said Port Klang, which consists of Northport and Westport, released 350,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers combined, made up of import and export portions as of last week.

Port Klang has the storage capacity of 120,000 TEUs for import and export containers and is currently utilising 60% of its storage.

“On a normal day prior to the MCO, the ports do not keep more than 30,000 TEUs in a particular time combined as the boxes are moving in and out of the ports. Despite the release period, the boxes have been reaching to about 45,000 TEUs.

“But it is not a problem for the ports as it is still within their capacities. The release period has

allowed us to keep the numbers manageable. Our capacity is running at about 60% and we still have some reserves,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Last week, Malaysian ports had the fourth dismissal period from April 20-23.

Subramaniam said there are an additional 15,000 TEUs of containers consisting automotive parts for completely knocked down (CKD) vehicles, including small portions for the construction industry, which cannot be moved due to temporarily ceased operation of the assembly plants.

“There are about 15,000 boxes which are stuck at the ports and they could mainly be from the construction and automotive industries as the assembly lines are not working.

“The raw materials for CKD vehicles are still at the ports. Car manufacturers cannot conduct deliveries nor store the parts at their premises,” he said.

For the northern region, Penang Port Sdn Bhd CEO Sasedharan Vasudevan said the port’s average utilised storage, which was at 40%, has expanded to 50% or about 21,000 TEUs, due to the MCO.

“Penang Port’s yard inventory for import containers was 45% and within the first week of MCO, it jumped to around 58% to 60%.

“The release period for the non-essential containers, to some extent, helped us to decongest.

“The norm for our yard occupancy for imports was about 40% and now the norm has been raised to 50%, which is still within our comfort level as we could still move the containers around,” he said.

The dismissal of containers has been conducted at all ports in the country, including in Johor, Port Klang, Penang, Kuantan, Melaka, Bintulu and Padang Besar which borders Thailand.

Recently, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the operations are being conducted according to the standard operating procedure recommended by the Health Ministry which has been communicated to port operators.