Congestion at Westport improving following PKA measures

PETALING JAYA: Measures taken by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) to reduce congestion at its ports, particularly in Westport, has born fruit, says Datuk Chong Sin Woon.

The PKA chairman said the congestions were caused by mainly external factors in December.

“On Dec 28, the Transport Ministry directed a task force headed by PKA to identify the root causes,” he said.

Chong said the measures resulted in several improvements as of Jan 8 and PKA will continue to do so in anticipation of increased goods coming in through the port in the run-up to Chinese New Year in February.

Among the measures included the increase of manpower by the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) to speed up inspection of contents in containers.

Chong said the measure resulted in reefer yards from being less congested, as containers were collected at speedier rates.

“The additional manpower allowed 100% of all blocked containers to be inspected and released within a day, a vast improvement compared to 60% previously.

“Reefer container pick up by haulers and consignees have also improved significantly with almost 50% delivered within 24 hours after gate passes are issued. This has led to improved reefer yard utilisation, which has dropped to 95% from 100% last week,” Chong said in a statement on Sunday (Jan 10).

He added forwarding agents and importers have also stepped up efforts to clear import containers from the port early to avoid storage in the port area, resulting in yard utilisation rates dropping from 90% to 82%.

“The Customs Department has also deployed additional officers to expedite the clearance of import and export documents, besides assigning special counters for refer and perishable goods,” he said.

Chong added the improvements have also resulted in shorter waiting times for vessels to berth.

“In December 2020, the average waiting time for a vessel to berth was five days. This has significantly improved in the last week with vessels now able to berth within 24 hours of arrival at the outer anchorage,” he said.

In December, a group of fruit and vegetable importers, wholesalers and retailers aired their concerns about the congestion at Westport and were worried that situations might worsen in the run-up to the Chinese New Year festivities if not remedied.

Many were worried about shortages in the market as well as not being able to provide customers with the freshest possible products.

In the statement that month, PKA general manager Capt K. Subramaniam said additional measures were being put in place to ensure that refrigerated containers containing food and other perishables, also known as reefers, would be given more attention.

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