KOTA KINABALU – Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah has proposed to the State government to set up a special task force immediately – comprising experts in port management, to identify and troubleshoot the underlying problems affecting the efficiency of the Sepanggar Port.
Urging this was PKR Sabah acting chairperson Christina Liew, stressing that this is crucial towards preventing consumers in the state from bearing the brunt of the situation i.e. inevitable increase in prices of goods due to extended delay in unloading of containers at the Sepanggar Port.
“For business operators, time is of the essence, especially on perishable goods. It is utmost unfair to the importers when it is the fault of poor port management that caused the delays in unloading their goods.
“It is reported that some business operators lost tens of thousands due to such inefficient management at Sepanggar Port. It is unacceptable and shameful when the ships had no choice but to turn round and head to Miri to unload the goods at the port there and then to have the goods shipped to Kota Kinabalu by another vessel.
“It is as if the people of Sabah have not suffered enough for paying more for almost all the consumer goods and services, as compared to fellow Malaysians in other parts of the country, all these years. Does the present State government have no consideration nor compassion at all towards the people’s suffering?” she lamented.
Liew who is also the Api-Api Assemblywoman added that the poor efficiency of the Sepanggar Port also did not augur well on the State government’s efforts to attract more investors to come to invest in Sabah.
She was responding to the recent news reports on the plight of importers in the state who have been badly affected by the delay in unloading of cargo at the Sepanggar Port. It was reported that the problem started to worsen about a week ago.
According to one of the affected importers, vessels have to wait sometimes up to five days to berth, and it would take another two to three days to unload the containers.
As the result of such delay, some of the shipping companies decided that instead of waiting for their turns to berth at the Sepanggar Port, they ordered their ships to instead head towards Bintulu and unload their cargo there, and to wait for another vessel to ship the cargo to Kota Kinabalu, a process which would take up to 10 days.
“The possible loss that an importer had to bear as a result of the delay was estimated at around RM60,000. However, it’s anyone’s guess for how long the importer could continue to bear this and not to pass on the additional cost incurred to the consumers,” said Liew.
She thus reiterated that it’s time for the State government, and the SPA in particular, to “take the bull by the horns” in improving the efficiency of the Sepanggar Port before consumers in the state are made to take the brunt of the situation.