Malaysian ports handled 10 per cent more containers in the second quarter of the year compared to the first, reflecting a recovery in both domestic and transhipment cargo.
Container traffic at the 10 major ports rose to 3.79 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) from 3.44 million in the periods reviewed.
Transhipment traffic, comprising almost two-thirds of the total, was up 11 per cent to 2.48 million TEUs from 2.22 million. Transhipment cargo is that which arrives in the country and is transferred to another ship before continuing to its final destination.
Export containers showed a 10.2 per cent increase to 670,718 TEUs, while import traffic rose 4.4 per cent to 640,469 TEUs.
In the January-June period, however, container throughput fell 7.7 per cent to 7.24 million TEUs from the first half of last year. Cargo tonnage was down 11.6 per cent to 168,806 tonnes.
The Transport Ministry’s special maritime adviser, Datuk Captain Abdul Rahim Abd. Aziz, said the drop in first half container volume was in line with the performance of other ports in the Asean region, which saw 15-30 per cent declines.
“For instance, ports in the Philippines reported a decline in cargo volume of an average 20.6 per cent in the first half, while Vietnam’s port container throughput was down between 14 per cent and 30 per cent and Thailand, an average drop of 35 per cent,” he told Business Times in an interview.
“While container traffic seemed to have stabilised in the second quarter, port operators in Asean remain uncertain whether the market has hit bottom.
“At the recent Asean Ports Association (APA) working committee meeting in Kota Kinabalu, the most optimistic prediction of a recovery was from the middle of 2010,” said Abdul Rahim, who is also the APA working committee chairman.
To survive the current economic downturn, port operators have resorted to various cost-cutting strategies, including sending fewer employees overseas for trips or meetings and deferring purchases of new equipment, he added.
Port Klang, comprising Northport and Westports, solidified its position as the largest container port in the country.
Its container throughput rose 7.8 per cent in the second quarter compared to the first three months. It moved 1.73 million TEUs against 1.6 million before.
Transhipment volume was 996,508 TEUs, up 4.6 per cent from the first three months, and 57.7 per cent of Port Klang’s total throughput.
The Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in Johor continued to be the second largest container port, handling 1.47 million TEUs in the second quarter.
It recorded 17.6 per cent growth from 1.25 million TEUs in the first quarter, with 94.4 per cent of all volume coming from transhipment.
Bintulu Port saw 16 per cent growth to 57,895 TEUs from 49,875 in the first quarter.
Johor Port handled 216,744 TEUs in the second quarter, up 7.3 per cent from 201,915 in the first, thanks to the increase in transhipment and export cargo.
Penang Port was the only port to record a decline in the quarters reviewed, down 24.2 per cent to 151,165 TEUs from 199,391.
By : Kang Siew Li