Transport Ministry told to clear container backlog at Labuan Port to prevent surcharge

Loke said the backlog is double the port’s capacity to the point ships cannot dock to load and unload and are sometimes forced to return to Port Klang. — Reuters pic
Loke said the backlog is double the port’s capacity to the point ships cannot dock to load and unload and are sometimes forced to return to Port Klang. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 8 — The Transport Ministry is doubling down to clear a congestion of shipping containers at the Labuan Port that would ultimately raise the prices of goods in the Federal Territory.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the backlog is double the port’s capacity to the point ships cannot dock to load and unload and are sometimes forced to return to Port Klang.

“As a result many of the shipping companies want to impose surcharge fees, which can range around RM2,500 to RM3,500 per container,” he said during the ministry’s monthly assembly here today.

Citing a recent news report, Loke said if the surcharges were to be implemented it could end up making Labuan the most expensive place in Malaysia.

“I have instructed the ministry secretary-general to clear the backlog. Labuan port’s maximum capacity is 900 containers, but at its worst held some 1,800 containers.

“Currently we have managed to reduce it to 1,200 containers, and we expect it to go below maximum capacity by Wednesday,” Loke said.

In this manner, he said the shipping companies will have no excuse to continue the surcharge fees which would burden Labuan’s populace.

Sabah paper The Daily Express reported last Friday that shipping companies would charge extra from October 1 onwards to load and unload at Labuan Port due to the ongoing terminal congestion.

A circular by one of the shipping companies revealed the surcharge varies between RM2,500 for a 20-foot container to as high as RM5,000 for a 40-foot container.