KOTA KINABALU, May 26 — The food supply problem in Sabah may actually be more serious than in West Malaysia, said Kota Kinabalu member of parliament Chan Foong Hin.

He said Sabah is also facing another issue which West Malaysia may not face that badly, namely the increase in costs in the transportation industry and even shipping costs.

The problem of ever increasing logistics costs will inevitably lead to a surge in the cost of doing business and prices of goods, including foodstuff, he pointed out.

Chan said in a statement today that he had recently communicated with business community in Sabah and learned that the biggest problem in Sabah is that the shipping is often delayed, and even foreign suppliers cannot send the goods to Sabah at one time, and that the buyers in Sabah have to find a third party shipper to forward goods to the final destination in Sabah on their behalf.

“So what had happened? To put it crudely, large shipping companies have ‘abandoned’ Sabah,” he said.

With the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the factors of Covid-19, Chan said the demand for shipping and containers had changed, so many large international shipping companies have the tendency to abandon the Sabah market, because the cargo volume is too small.

“In fact, since the Covid-19 pandemic we have noted suspension of international carriers services on the domestic trade between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan due to the diversion of capacity to higher yield service routes.

“With big shipping companies having no obligation to dock at Sabah ports despite being on the route, it is time to assist our local shipping companies that would go the distance to pick up goods and deliver them to smaller ports in Sabah and Sarawak. If the government can’t even take care of the local shipping companies, I just fear that one day there will be problems for Sabah’s food supply when nobody will ship them, especially when shipping of such essential foodstuff is a loss making business.

“I acknowledge that increase in logistical costs is a big problem which is not easy to resolve, and the state government alone may not be able to handle it. It should seek the intervention of the federal government, especially the Federal Ministry of Transportation,” he said. — Borneo Post Online