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2010 January 11

Mixed views on shorter container storage period

PETALING JAYA: Industry players have mixed views on the reduction of free storage period for full-container load at Port Klang to three days from five that came into effect on Jan 1.

It now means that containers, regardless of whether they are for export or import, are only given three days without charge at Northport and Westports.

The idea, mooted by the Transport Ministry in 2002, had seen numerous postponements and deferments.

The last deferment was made in June last year by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) due to the global economic downturn.

However, for the implementation this year, PKA had taken into consideration some of the concerns raised by the port users.

For example, it has directed the two terminals to calculate the free storage period based on hours (72) instead of days, and to waive the storage charges if delays are caused by Customs, other government agencies, or the terminals themselves.

The terminals were also told to maintain the five-day free storage period until Dec 31 for shipments from Asean ports.

MultiCargo Express Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Robin Hoh said the reduction in the free storage period was good as it would enable Port Klang to function more efficiently.

“This has been practised in most European countries for quite some time now whereas certain countries only give consignees a day to clear their cargo,” he told StarBiz. “Also, the turnover will be faster, thus profiting not only the carriers, but the ports and depots as well.”

“But, if we want this implementation to be successful, all related bodies for the clearance and delivery of cargo must be more focused and committed,” Hoh added.

On the expected challenges of the new ruling, he said that on festive holidays, all departments and authorities from the points of entry to exit must be highly efficient to run things smoothly.

“In this case, pre-submission of documents for cargo clearance should be practised,” he said.

Transways Logistics (M) Sdn Bhd president and chief executive officer Edward Chan supported the shorter free storage period but thought the timing of the implementation was wrong.

“We are still recovering from the global economic downturn. Furthermore, some types of cargo need more than three working days to be cleared.

“For example, for import cargo, before we can pay the duty, we have to calculate and confirm with our clients. And sometimes cargo needs approval from some government agencies that may take more than three days,” he said, adding that about 30% of the cargoes handled by Transways were cleared in two to three days.

Another logistics player also said the implementation at this point of time was inappropriate as it would hurt the businesses and their clients.

Meanwhile, Wilhelmsen Ships Service managing director Winston Loo said shortening the free storage time was a positive move.

“It should make the entire logistics chain more efficient. And, in doing so, would further improve Port Klang’s competitiveness in the region,” he said.

Loo also believed that sufficient time had been given to all stakeholders to re-engineer their processes to meet the new ruling.

“Thus, while we do expect some hiccups, I believe all the stakeholders will be able to overcome the shortcomings,” he said.

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