By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Nov 9: Bintulu Port must improve its service delivery as many complaints have been received from port users concerning cargo delivery services, the State Assembly heard today.
Tanjung Batu assemblyman Chiew Chiu Sing said ships that normally take only a few days to unload are now taking about a week or even more to unload.
“Port is all about how fast you can clear the ships and avoid downtime. The faster you clear the ships, the more money you make.
“Delays are costly and often incur penalties to all those concerns, from ship owners all the ways down to the shippers. the importers and the whole logistics chain,” he said when debating the State Budget 2019 today.
Chiew said when unloading delays kept occurring, ships would have to queue up in the sea to enter the port, some will turn away and “some may not want to come back anymore, leaving a black name for the port”.
In addition to dealing with imported good, Bintulu Port also ships out products from Samalaju industrial Park.
“Products like ferroalloy, aluminium ingots and billets. Then there are the SMDS oil products also. These are huge cargo and coming in big quantities from the factories. But the port is not handling all these fast enough, thus causing big problems for the manufacturers, shipping companies and the buyers.
“Surely when situations like these arise, one asks what is the port management doing about it. In terms of port facilities, personnel. quality of the quay and why the RTG crane breaks down. I was told there are more of them not working than those working,” he said.
Chiew wondered whether the port had enough manpower to man its operations, considering the rise in the volume of work.
“l understand that the problems of the quay and RTG cranes and facilities are not just problems in Bintulu Port. They are also happening in other ports in the state,” he pointed out.
Bintulu Port must address this problem promptly as it is a very significant and strategic port — a lifeline of Sarawak and Malaysia.
“The port needs greater protection, too. Chinese warships are sailing closer and closer up and down our shores. We cannot even go far enough into the South China Sea to see what is going on,” he opined.
Chiew also suggested that a naval base to be set up Tg Kidurong to provide the first line of defence.
“And in view of that, what is the state government doing about the building of the naval base to protect our sovereign right?” he asked — DayakDaily