Containers/vessels shortage costing M’sia too much, solution needed ASAP

THE global shortage of containers and vessels continues to adversely impact Malaysian ships to carry cargo to key trade routes like Europe, China, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), USA and Japan.

Based on a recent survey by the Malaysian National Shippers’ Council (MNSC), the shortage issue has been causing Malaysian shippers to accept any available shipping service at premium rates, or utilise air freights for urgent shipments.

Naturally, freight rates ended up skyrocketing to historical high rates of US$6,000 to US$10,000 per container, compared to the previous US$55 to US$300 in pre-pandemic times.

The container and vessel shortages have a ripple effect causing a myriad of supply chain problems including port congestions and have impacted trade and eventually will impact consumers worldwide.

Following MNSC’s urgent plea for Government’s support and intervention, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) secretary general Datuk Isham Ishak expressed the ministry’s commitment to resolve the matter on area within the ministry’s purview.

Throughout its continuous efforts to improve ports’ efficiencies through innovations, the ministry promotes discussions and incubate new ideas among federal ports through a dedicated platform, allowing substantive engagements can be taken in a more coordinated manner.

“MNSC is convinced that this platform will enhance efficiencies not only for ports and logistics service providers, but also for shippers through harmonised regulatory measures. MNSC looks forward to the full realisation of this initiative which will greatly facilitate Malaysian seaports to achieve their full potential,” said MNSC chairman Datuk Andy Seo.

The MOT is also assisting shippers to pursue alternative modes of transportation via land and air, which includes exploring the feasibility of a single land checkpoint at the Malaysia-Thailand border and encouraging airlines to utilise passenger flights’ for transportation of goods in the lower deck of passenger aircraft.

There are also talks of Malaysia reintroducing its own containerised national flag vessels and local steel manufacturers to explore the production of shipping containers.

“We commend the prompt action by MOT in mitigating the impact of the issues faced by shippers and thank the Ministry for the strong support and assistance rendered during this critical time,” Seo said. – March 25, 2021

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