State marine authority urged to clarify stand on shipping notice affecting fuel transport

Ling (seated centre) is seen with association members at the press conference.

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SIBU, Oct 28: The Sarawak and Sabah Shipowners Association is not in favour of a Malaysian Shipping Notice (MSN) issued on August 5 this year disallowing existing single hull single bottom tankers under the Malaysia flag from carrying oil irrespective of the vessel’s age.

This means only double hull double bottom tankers are allowed for such work.

The rationale behind the new regulation is to prevent oil spills into the sea and rivers should a collision involve a single hull tanker.

The association wants the director of Marine Department Sarawak to clarify whether the state will follow the new regulation.

“The state can exercise its right as it has its own Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1960 whereas in West Malaysia, Labuan and the Federal Territories they are following the 1952 Merchant Shipping Ordinance,” pointed out the association president Ling Soon King at a press conference here today.

The Marine Department of Malaysia issued the MSN.

Ling revealed the new regulation would affect 280 single hull vessels in the state and would impact economic activity that rely on diesel fuel.

“About 99 per cent of our oil tankers are single hull and with this new ruling, all of them will have to stop carrying petrol and diesel to their respective users with immediate effect. With non-supply of fuel, all (user) industries will have to stop operation,” he asserted.

Ling said it would be very costly for owners of single hull vessels to either refit the vessel as a double hull or to buy a new double hull vessel.

“All of our vessels are travelling along rivers only, the most pertinent ones being the Rajang River and Baram River. And most rivers are shallow especially during dry season, so it is not appropriate to use the larger double hull vessel to transport diesel fuel,” he reasoned.

Besides that, he said the vessels are only carrying petrol and diesel and not heavy grade oil which when spilled into water is hard to clean up.

“Moreover, all of our vessels are within the ‘under 60 tonnes’ category which do not fall under the MSN. Our vessels are also in good condition despite some of them being over 25-years-old,” he added. — DayakDaily