The congestion in the container yard was due to importers keeping their cargo boxes for a long time
by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by ARIF KARTONO
PORT Klang Authority (PKA) has clarified that two ports, namely Northport (M) Bhd and Westports Holdings Bhd, are not facing shortage of workforce and equipment problems.
Its GM Captain K Subramaniam dismissed the claims made by Malaysian National Shippers Council chairman Datuk Dr Ir Andy Seo that there was congestion due to shortage of port equipment especially in Port Klang.
Subramaniam said there was congestion problem in the container yard due to importers keeping their cargo boxes for a long time because the port is a safe place to do so.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some importers and exporters are facing issues with the factories as they have not ramped up to full production, so since they don’t need the cargo, they keep it in the containers.
“However, PKA managed to solve the problem. Northport and Westport were cleared since the first week of February, now (everything) is back to normal,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
TMR on Feb 23 reported that Malaysian shippers were scrambling to secure containers from any available shipping services at premium rates, or had to rely on air freight for urgent shipments due to container and vessel capacity shortage.
Seo said the port congestions and terminal disruptions in Port Klang are not just caused by ports trying to funnel large numbers of containers through their gateways, but also due to inadequate port equipment and bottlenecks faced in Customs clearance for import shipments requiring inspections by other government agencies.
“The port congestion has led to significant shipment delays of between two and three weeks which have caused a ripple effect throughout the supply chain and it will eventually impact businesses and consumers worldwide,” he added.
Responding to this, Subramaniam said port equipment including containers and straddle carriers are sufficient, but because of the congestion inside the yard, it is not productive to do so.
“We can put additional cranes and equipment but (there is) no point because there are many containers inside, we cannot move,” he added.
Subramaniam also said as 500 workers tested positive for Covid-19 in Port Klang, the operation was also impacted.
“This affects us but we still continue our operation as it is. Despite the challenges and congestion, we recorded a growth of 2% in November 2020 compared to the corresponding period in 2019.
“In December, we registered a 1% increase in cargo. In January 2021, the overall growth was 6%. This shows a high volume coming in and out,” he said.