Thursday, September 24, 2009

Penang Port MD responds

Let me run the port while you run the state government, was the retort of a visible upset Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) managing director Datuk Ahmad Ibni Hajar.

Ahmad was responding to a statement by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who had called on the federal government to focus more attention on the port following a report that the port's container throughput had declined by 24.2% for the second quarter of this year.

Clarifying the report quoting Datuk Captain Abdul Rahim Abd Aziz, the transport ministry’s special maritime adviser who released the national figures for all ports in late July, Ahmad said Lim should have checked his facts with PPSB before making the damaging statement which was carried by most newspapers including online websites and wire services.

PPSB has since rectified Abdul Rahim's statement.

The port had in fact achieved a 13% growth compared to 1Q this year and not a 24.2% decline as perceived by the Penang state government.

"What do you achieve by such a statement? Following the publication of the statement, I even received a call from our bankers which could affect our ratings.

"The report by Abdul Rahim had in fact been clarified right after that report was published and the media should get the correct figures from us and not from jokers who do not even know what TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) are.

"You should run the state government and let me run my port which I have done for the past 12 years.

"If we are in need of help, we know exactly what to do.

"There have been just too many people talking about the PPSB, from the state government to the Penang Port Commission and even NGOs.

"Please stop talking negatively about the port.

"Come and see me instead of blowing things out of proportion. As a leader, he (Lim) should say only what is factual," said Ahmad.

He said although PPSB subsidises the ferry services by RM10 million to RM20 million each year, it did not complain, but others have been doing so, hinting at the PPC which has been making statements about the ferry services of late.

He said instead of interfering, the state government could help by solving various problems which already have been highlighted to the state government including the delay of the Penang Sentral project, traffic congestion, cleanliness and also discount for land premiums for the PPSB which had also been granted by the previous state government.

"The statement was even read all over the world, which is not funny as our reputation has been damaged by the report when it is not true," Ahmad said at a press conference.

Hitting out at the state government, Ahmad said the state government should help the port instead of interfering in the port's affairs.

"Since PPSB was incorporated, we have achieved triple in volume of container handling from 1994, from 368,000 to 930,000 TEUs in 2008.

"We have also doubled in volume the cargo handling from 1994 from 15 million tonnes to 26 million tonnes in 2008.
"Our revenue has also doubled from RM139 million in 1994 to RM227 million in 2008.

"Our assets have tripled from RM448 million in 1994 to RM1.1 billion in 2008 even though our paid-up capital remains at RM73 million since incorporation," he added.

He said last month, the port handled 92,459 TEUs which was the best ever recorded in the history of the port.

For 3Q this year, Ahmad said more than a 12% increase in TEUs was anticipated from 2Q.

Lim on Tuesday had asked the federal government to focus more attention on the port following the drop in container traffic and said the decline was a warning to the finance ministry to inject fresh funds and new ideas into Penang Port.

He had also said that questions were being asked on the role played by the regulatory body PPC, to revitalise the Penang Port and reverse the downward trend in container traffic.

Source: EdgeDaily

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