‘Time to review tariffs at Port Klang terminals’

THE Port Klang Authority (PKA), the regulator of Northport and Westports, plans to review the tariff structure at both terminals to bring their rates on a par with their neighbours’.

“People perceive that cheap tariff is the main reason why a shipping line calls at a port. I think that is the least of the reasons, but rather it’s about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” PKA general manager Lim Thean Shiang told Business Times in an interview.

He said Port Klang’s tariffs on most of the services it provides have remained unchanged since 1965.

It was reported that current handling charges for a 20-foot and a 40-foot container are RM230 and RM345 respectively. For transhipment, it costs RM140 for a 20-foot box and RM210 for a 40-footer.

“It is not about making more profit, but about helping port operators improve their infrastructure and facilities.

pix_middle“If they don’t get higher tariffs, it is difficult for them to reinvest (in new equipment and facilities); and, if they don’t reinvest, we will never catch up with other (international) ports,” Lim said.

Citing Hamburg as an example, he said that 70 per cent of its operations is automated. Its port charges are about five to six times higher than those at Port Klang.

He has asked that the PKA’s research and development team collect tariff rates of ports in the region, which has several world-class ports, as a benchmark.

Once a review is done, a proposal will be sent to the Minister of Transport for approval.

On another matter, Lim said the port authority had put the dredging of the north channel on hold. It will study the viability of expanding the south channel instead.

The initial plan was to dredge the north channel in two stages to a depth of 15 metres, from 11.3m.

Work to deepen the channel to 13.3m has been completed, but further dredging to 15 metres is pending approval.

Expansion of the south channel waterway from 365m to 500m will allow for two-way traffic.

Lim said the final decision on which project to proceed with will consider the economic and safety benefits to be derived.

While both projects will need about the same amount of capital outlay, further dredging of the north channel would be more costly owing to the maintenance dredging needed to upkeep the depth at 15m.

“I am from the private sector, and it’s all about dollars and cents. All decisions should be based on commercial gain,” Lim said.

By : Presenna Nambiar

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