Port Klang ready to handle backlog diverted from Singapore

KUALA LUMPUR — Port Klang is fully capable and ready to handle the influx of containers and liners redirected to Malaysia to avoid longer wait times in Singapore due to the maritime logjam in the island republic, which includes berth congestion and delays.

Malaysian ports have been able to clear vessels and liners more quickly, limiting delays and avoiding major yard congestion with strategies such as putting in place measures to streamline gate openings and prioritise vessels.

Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Captain K Subramaniam said that while the berth utilisation rate is very high, ship turnaround time would only be good without delays.

“Port Klang is not congested as we have 12 container ships waiting at outer anchorage, which (takes) not more than 12 hours to 24 hours to be cleared,” he told Bernama.

Analysts predict port congestion in Asia’s busiest primary waterway will persist until August since many shipping companies have been forced to alter routes, such as using the Cape of Good Hope rather than the Suez Canal, owing to the Red Sea issue.

Singapore has reportedly been dealing with longer waiting times for weeks, but the waiting times have gradually eased as liners avoided calls at the port and diverted to Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas.

According to DHL Global Forwarding’s Ocean Freight Port Situation Update, the delays in Singapore could take more than five days due to berth congestion and high yard density, while for Port Klang, the delays are around two days to five days due to high yard density.

When contacted, Westports Holdings Bhd executive chairman and group managing director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam Abdullah acknowledged the situation and said that the recent congestion in Singapore has impacted Port Klang as liners diverted some port calls and discharged containers in Malaysia to ease the waiting time encountered to berth in Singapore.

“Westports has implemented several strategies to cope effectively with the increased container volumes. Initially, Westports managed to avoid major congestion despite regional shipping disruptions.

“However, with ongoing delays in vessel berthing in Singapore by June, the influx of containers eventually led to higher yard density at Port Klang.

Ruben added that Westports has streamlined gate openings to prevent yard congestion, prioritised vessels with higher loading volumes and worked closely with importers and haulage companies to expedite container boxes’ clearance as a strategy to address the issue.

He emphasised that the unprecedented situation underscores the importance of having multiple ports to handle regional trade, and these hubs work in tandem to ensure the resilience and reliability of global and regional supply chains.

“When one port faces challenges, the other can absorb some of the ripple effects, demonstrating why liners need dual hubs in the region to maintain smooth operations,” he said.

Looking ahead, Ruben said Westports is investing in better planning systems and expanding its yard with the upcoming Westports 2 expansion to better cope with future volume increases.

“In the medium term, before the completion of Westports 2, we will also add small pockets of yard space and more equipment to enhance capacity and efficiency (and) these measures demonstrate Westports’ commitment to maintaining a high level of service and ensuring the smooth flow of goods,” he said.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders president Datuk Tony Chia Han Teun said Malaysian ports may consider these unexpected ship calls as a temporary windfall especially when they have available or excess capacity over their scheduled shipping lines calls.

“The containers from such diverted vessels are not local imports but are purely transhipment containers.

“Our concerns are that Malaysian ports should not go overboard on taking up this windfall cargo as capacity provided for these vessels may impact the capacity and efficiency of handling our local imports and exports,” he told Bernama.

Chia cautioned that while Malaysian ports may take the extra containers that come their way, it is the obligation of local ports to ensure that import and export shipments are not affected and at the expense of these extraneous containers.

“We are still monitoring the situations and getting feedback from our industry,” he added. — BERNAMA / pic TMR FILE