Resumption Of Barter Trade, Transshipment In ESSZone Positive For Economic Sectors

TAWAU: The reopening of barter trade and transshipment trans-border activities in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) from March 5 will help restore the positive prospects of the economic sectors impacted by COVID-19.

R-NIE Enterprise manager Arniati Sulaiman, one of the players involved, said the decision to allow non-convention ships (NCS) or kumpits (traditional wooden boats) to transport goods from Sabah to Indonesia and the Philippines, and vice-versa, helped to halt the losses suffered by industry players in Tawau.

“These activities certainly contribute to Sabah’s economy and the state government’s decision is very appropriate and brings relief to all barter trade and transshipment players here.

“A total of 132,044 rice sacks (25 kg each) and 6,700 bags of sugar (50 kg per bag), bound for the Philippines and Indonesia, have been stuck in warehouses and containers at the port here since last year due to the pandemic,” she told Bernama.

According to her, if these commodities were not able to be shipped to their destinations, their retailers would incur more than RM7 million in estimated losses.

Meanwhile, Sabah Cross-Border Traders Association chairman Datuk Omar Bachora said all those involved in this industry in Sabah would benefit from the positive move and hence generate income for the state.

“It is hoped that all parties will follow the standard operating procedures set by the National Security Council and be united in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said, in addition to expressing gratitude to the state government led by Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor.

Meanwhile, Sabah Assistant Minister of Finance Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar, who is also the Apas state assemblyman, said the state government always listened to the people’s grouses and was sensitive to their needs.

“As one of the leaders in Tawau, I have had visits from business people who wanted to discuss the suspension of barter trade and transshipment since the Conditional Movement Control Order’s implementation on Oct 13 last year,” he said.

Nizam said that after the matter had been assessed and discussed by federal and state agencies during the Sabah Security Council Committee meeting on March 2, the state government agreed to allow Indonesian and Philippine NCS vessels to enter the ESSZone waters to carry out barter trade and transshipment.