By Jailani Hassan
LABUAN, Aug 13 (NNN-BERNAMA) — The Labuan Port Authority will study complaints about the port tariff imposed by the newly-appointed operator of the Labuan Liberty Port, which is claimed to be higher than before, in the interest of its users and consumers on the duty-free-island here.
Its deputy chairman, Datuk Chin Hon Vui said the study would focus on the tariff impact on the inflow and outflow of cargoes via the Labuan Liberty Port and on essential items to the local consumers.
“LPA board members have received complaints from the business community and port users on the alleged high port tariff by the new port operator … we will study the issue to resolve it amicably,” he told Bernama today.
Megah Port Management Sdn Bhd (MPM) took over the management of Labuan Liberty Terminal in April and would handle the operation and facility management of the port for the next six years.
Chin said the LPA would convene a town hall meeting with the port operator and business community (involving importers, exporters and port users) on Aug 28 to discuss various issues, particularly the port tariff, to find an amicable solution.
Former LPA chairman Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng had previously called for a town hall meeting between the business community and new operator before the tariff was revised.
This will enable the port operator to get input from port users and the parties concerned could a reach a consensus on the sensitive issue (port tariff), he added.
Meanwhile, the Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce expressed dismay over the new port charges introduced by the new operator which it claimed could further escalate the cost of living here.
Its president, Datuk Wong Kii Yii said it was natural when the cost of imported goods increased, shipping companies/agents or consignees would eventually pass down the costs to consumers.
“This is a matter of grave concern and we urge the newly-appointed chairman of LPA Datuk P Kamalanathan Panchanathan to resolve this issue,” he said.
He said the chamber has written a six-page letter complaining about the higher tariff to the chairman and copied it to the Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
“Giving examples of the new charges, under wharfage, depending on the types of cargoes loaded, discharged at the port, it was between RM2 and RM4 per revenue tonne of part thereof and the cargoes categories were — break build/vehicles, dry break bulk, liquid bulk (non-dangerous and liquid bulk dangerous and liquid bulk (LFG & LNG).
“Under the berth age, the charges were based on length overall of vessel and the time it spends on the berth and it was between RM1 and 60 cents. The charges were applied at the general berth/container, bulk cargo berth, petroleum jetty, LPG jetty or other jetty.
“And vessels overstayed at berth were charged five times the relevant rates. There were also charges imposed on passenger boats plying from here to Brunei or any other coastal ports for sanitising or cleaning the boat at the port as rental fee. There was no such charges by the Marine Department since 1976,” he said.
On top of these, a visit port pass for personnel entering or leaving the port area of between RM50 and RM2, depending on the duration of the pass.
Wong said that the charges were bothering as they were new, he reiterated that the previous operator of the port did not impose such charges and was not able to do much for port improvement because of a short-term month-to-month contract.
“If given a long-term contract, we believe the local operator would be a better choice,” he said.