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  12th January 2009 - STAR MARITIME

Hauliers gearing up for greater efficiency

ASSOCIATION of Malaysian Hauliers (AMH) is working towards greater efficiency to prepare for the reduction in the free storage period from five days to three for containers at Port Klang effective July 1.

Free storage period is the window duration given to importers or exporters to clear or send their goods to and from the ports without any charges.

After that period, a storage fee will be imposed on a daily basis per container.

The reduction in the free storage period was delayed from Jan 1 to July 1 in view of the current economic climate and the appeal by some quarters in the maritime community in Port Klang.

Since the plan was mooted in 2002, several deadlines have been postponed as the shipping community in Port Klang was not ready for the shorter free storage period.

AMH president Datuk Ahmad Shalimin Shaffie hoped that this would be the final deadline where all parties in the supply chain, including importers and exporters, must improve their efficiency for the shorter free storage period by July 1.

“It is an international standard that we ought to follow. It will be good for Malaysia as a maritime nation,” he told StarBiz.

He said the three-day free storage period would improve the turnaround of prime movers and trailers.

For hauliers, AMH has introduced a guideline that included a RM100 surcharge for the “restrictive time” given by customers to pick up and deliver containers to and from their premises.

According to the new guideline effective Dec 16, customers are free to determine the date of pick-up and delivery of goods, but when they restrict the time frame, for example, the goods must be delivered to their premises before 5pm, or the surcharge will be imposed.

Shalimin said the move was not a profit-making initiative, but aimed at efficiency improvements where importers and exporters should be able to receive and deliver goods at any time.

“The RM100 is only a benchmark and is not fixed. This is one of the efforts as a preparation towards the reduction of free storage period at the ports,” he said, adding that hauliers still maintained 48-hour notification from customers for pick-up and delivery.

On another issue, Shalimin said, some manufacturers had kept trailers and containers for a relatively long period of time.

“In China, once an in-bound container arrived at the customer premise, the company only get one hour to clear the goods.

“Here, we left our trailers and containers where we come back to pick up the next day. Some companies have also kept our trailers for two to three days,” he said.

Shalimin added that the stalled trailers at exporters and importers premises meant extra cost for hauliers.

“They can be used for other deliveries,” he said.

On the issue of too many players after the industry was liberalised, Shalimin said the Government should continue to give haulage licences only to “real” operators. “We believe that there are people who do not operate the haulage business themselves when were given the licences.

“Small and medium-size players should have at least 30 permits,’’ he said.

The haulage industry was liberalised on April 1, 2006, after 31 years of government control.

On the recent fluctuation in oil prices and its impact on the haulage industry, Shalimin said the fuel adjustment factor (FAF) surcharge moved in tandem with oil prices.

“But the FAF is only calculated based on oil price. The prices of batteries, tyres and other spare parts that have gone up when oil price was at its peak are still the same.

“It is quite worrying for the industry, especially in this current economic condition, and the Government should look into the matter,” he said.


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