Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Malaysian shipping lines claim discrimination

The attitude by Johor Port to accord least priority to Malaysian-owned shipping lines amid worsening congestion is very saddening, says Masa

Domestic shipping lines are not happy by what it claims to be the discriminatory attitude shown by Johor Port Bhd which favours foreign-owned shipping companies in the middle of worsening congestion at the port.

In a statement yesterday, Malaysia Shipowners' Association (Masa) chairman Nordin Mat Yusoff said the attitude by Johor Port to accord least priority to Malaysian-owned shipping lines at the port was very saddening and does not speak well of a business relationship aimed at serving mutual interests.

"Although domestic container shipping lines were the first to support Johor Port when it started container operations more than 30 years ago, and continue to remain loyal to the port, we are the first to be discriminated by the port," he said.

Speaking on behalf of its members, Masa also cried foul over the move by the port to provide priority berth to a foreign-based shipping line which will worsen congestion.

"We are dismayed by the move by the Johor Port which wants to provide priority berthing to Pacific International Lines calling at Pasir Gudang which will only aggravate further the waiting time of the coastal ships trying to secure berth at the already congested port".

Instead of seeking measures to alleviate the problem of congestion faced by domestic shipping lines, Johor Port is only aggravating the problem by allocating 250m of the limited berth capacity on its 650m wharf to Pacific International ships thereby reducing the available berth occupancy capacity further.

Under a recently-concluded contractual arrangement, Johor Port has offered 250m of the total 650m-container wharf to Singapore-based Pacific International to discharge empty containers on a priority basis.

"We fail to understand how Johor Port could resort to implementing such a priority berthing arrangement (beginning August this year) with a foreign shipping line when the port is facing such high berth occupancy rate and making vessels of the Malaysian shipping lines wait to secure berth."

Masa said vessels of its member lines are facing delays up to 48 hours and the lines have been putting up with the untenable position for the past year with no solution in sight offered by Johor Port.

"We have since May this year brought up the problem of having to wait between 24-48 hours from the time of arrival of the ship to secure berth and despite its earlier assurance the situation has not changed and now with the move to allocate the limited capacity to Pacific International ships the waiting times of the domestic ships will even become longer."

Johor Port has allocated the balance of the capacity at the remaining 400m of berth to mainline operators, international feeder operations before domestic shipping lines are allowed to berth.

"This is an outright discrimination and a very anti-competitive and monopolistic behaviour on the part of Johor Port which has no basis for such preference except to berth ships based on their arrival times."

Masa also disagreed with claims by Johor Port the capacity utilisation was only 50-60 per cent and that there was no serious congestion.

Masa said members are contemplating to transfer their vessel operations to Port of Tanjung Pelepas if the long delays persist at Pasir Gudang with no early signs in resolving the long waiting time of container ships at Pasir Gudang port.

No comments: