Single hull tankers can continue to operate along Sarawak’s coast, rivers

Lee (centre) at a press conference here today (Dec 14, 2020).

SIBU, Dec 14: Single hull bottom tankers under the Malaysia Flag can continue with their normal operation in coastal and rivers in the state as the Marine Department of Malaysia has exempted the state from the Malaysia Shipping Notice (MSN 16/2020).

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said at a press conference today that the department had listened to their appeal.

His ministry had written an appeal letter on Nov 16,2020 to seek for an exemption on double hull double bottom requirement for the state and to allow single hull tanker ships to operate.

The  Marine Department Malaysia had on August 5, issued the Notice to shipowners, ship agents, masters, seafarers, port operators in the country that only double hull double bottom oil tanker ships are allowed in rivers.

Lee said his ministry had received complaints from the Sarawak Association of Maritime Industries (SAMIN) and Sabah and Sarawak Shipowners Association (SSSA) that the Malaysia Shipping Notice MSN16/2020 has negative implications on the Sarawak Tanker shipowners or operators whose plying limits are confined to the coastal and rivers.

These affected tanker ships have been used to supply diesel fuel to the upper river communities to be used to power generators in longhouses, clinics, government stations and offices, schools and workers’ camps.

Other usages of diesel fuel are for vehicles and machineries owned by plantations and timber companies.

“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the federal government especially to Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ir. Dr. Wee Ka Siong, his deputy Hasbi Habibollah, as well to Datuk Isham Ishak Secretary General, Ministry of Transport, Malaysia for their understanding and support towards my appealing to seek the exemption by allowing the Single Hull tanker ships to continue to operate in order to avoid the interruption of essential items including diesel fuel to the interior and coastal areas of Sarawak,” he said.

He also thanked the Director General of Marine Department, Malaysia and the Director of Marine Department Malaysia, Sarawak Region for their effort and wise justifications that contribute towards the amendment of MSN16/2020 which provides exemption for tankers operating in rivers in Sarawak.

“I would like to urge the industry players in particular the members of Sarawak Association of Maritime Industries (SAMIN); Sabah and Sarawak Shipowners Association (SSSA) and the related tanker owners and operators to appreciate and give their full support by strictly comply with the safety requirement and standard operating procedures set by the Marine Department, Malaysia at all times,” he added.

He said that the amendment to the Notice showed that the current government is willing to listen to the people’s concerns particularly from the shipping community especially tanker owners and operators in Sarawak.

However, he would make another appeal to the department as the Notice is still applicable to oil tankers in the Bintulu Port.

Lee said there are six single hull oil tankers that are taking one million litres of diesel a week from Bintulu Port for distribution to the Northern region of the state that cover Miri, Limbang, Lawas and Marudi.

“If they are not allowed to go to Bintulu Port, then they have to go to Tanjung Manis Port (in central region) which is very far away. If they are can’t operate from Bintulu Port, it will affect the distribution of oil to the northern region,” said Lee. — DayakDaily