LETTER | The nation is facing a catastrophic situation due to outbreaks of Covid-19 and in order to combat this challenge, coordinated joint efforts of all stakeholders are required.
In this respect, the Malaysian National Shippers Council (MNSC) welcomes the timely announcement by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) in its recent media statement dated March 24, 2020 that transport and logistics services supporting any essential manufacturing sector would be allowed to continue operating while the movement control order (MCO) is in force.
Despite all efforts to keep approved activities on the move, MNSC notes with regret that all other companies that do not fall under the essential goods approved by Miti will not be able to operate and would be required to close all operations including production, import and export as it is prohibited to function during the MCO period.
MNSC is highly concerned with the repercussion of:
1. Non-movement of non-essential cargo to and from the port to the warehouse during MCO which will cause huge congestions at the ports and airports.
2. Non-essential goods that have been imported before the implementation of MCO have arrived and stuck at the port as no approval can be obtained from Miti and therefore the goods cannot be moved out from the port.
3. Port Klang Authority has announced in its recent notice dated March 17, 2020 that there will be no waiver on container-related charges, ie storage, removal and demurrage charges due to delays in collection of the cargo.
4. These charges can amount to a significant amount and will be passed directly to shippers/ manufacturers.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), a member of MNSC, had reached out to port authorities to urge ports to waive the storage, removal and demurrage charges. We commend the Port Klang Authority (PKA) for being one of the first port authorities that have agreed to consider the request from FMM. We urge the other ports to follow suit and waive the charges.
MNSC propose that the other government agencies (OGAs) and state governments come in unity to fight this dangerous pandemic by adopting the emergency operating procedures issued time to time by the authorities such as the MKN, Miti and Transport Ministry (MOT). Presently due to the MCO, the logistics industry is in a dilemma.
The Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders, a member of MNSC, in their recent statement on March 23, 2020 has raised this concern, whether they will be able to transport the goods as ports are deemed essential services and Customs Department and Immigration Department (for cross border trade with Singapore and Thailand) are not restricting clearance of cargo and drivers passage respectively.
In spite of assurances and operating announcements that freight forwarding activities within the approvals given the industry has received contradicting statements by various ministries and the authorities. The police and army which have instituted roadblocks are preventing the movement of cargo to and from ports and by land, unless transporters are able to provide approval or authorisation letters to move the goods. This is a clear indication of poor communication amongst the OGAs.
In order not to further deepen the crisis, MNSC is of the view that logistics and its related cut across all sectors, manufacturing and non-manufacturing, ie agriculture, primary commodities.
We urge the government to allow logistics to continue unhindered and if possible there should not be the need to apply for separate approvals from the MOT when there is already approval from Miti for companies in the essential list or for transport for fresh produce already deem essential by Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry.
Transporters should be permitted to transport the essential goods using the same approval from these authorities.
The writer is the chairperson of the Malaysian National Shippers Council (MNSC).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
Keep up with the latest information on the outbreak in the country with Malaysiakini's free Covid-19 tracker.
Malaysiakini is providing free access to the most important updates on the coronavirus pandemic. You can find them here.
Help keep independent media alive - subscribe to Malaysiakini.