players feeling the pinch
MOST maritime players in Port Klang
have experienced double-digit drop in cargo volume in the first two
months of this year on a year-on-year basis due to the global
Although many of them have embarked
on initiatives to sustain their cargo volume throughout the year,
some are still unsure about the outlook beyond March.
Port Klang, the national maritime
gateway, has projected an average 10% fall in cargo volume this
year. Port operators there recorded a 16% drop in cargo volume in
January against the same month in 2008.
The port posted a 12% increase in
cargo volume to 7.97 million TEUs (20-ft equivalent units) last
United Arab Shipping Co (UASC)
Malaysia Sdn Bhd country general manager Desmond Yong told
StarBiz its cargo volume for January and February dropped by 25%
to 30%. UASC is a major container shipping company based in the
Yong said although the volume for
the first two months was not encouraging, it had started to show
signs of revival this month.
“We have begun to see positive
cargo volume movements contributed by local companies involved in
overseas construction projects and commodities such as palm oil,
rubber and cocoa.
“These are the key factors that we
expect will sustain cargo volume at healthy levels this year,” he
Yong said it would be difficult to
predict the outlook for 2009 due to the global economic uncertainty.
“We are now managing our business
plan on a month-to-month basis until future prospects become
clearer,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kudrat Maritime Sdn Bhd,
a shipping agent representing more than 300 principals (shipping
companies) worldwide, recorded fewer vessel calls for the first two
months of this year.
“We recorded 20% to 25% fewer ship
calls for January and February. Usually, we receive an average 200
ship calls per month,” said its executive director Faizul Kamaruddin.
“A large chunk of the contraction
was due to fewer calls from the dry-bulk carriers and palm oil
tankers,” he added.
To sustain the current volume, he
said Kudrat Maritime planned to embark on an aggressive marketing
initiative in the Mediterranean, Europe and Far East.
Kudrat Maritime usually does its
own marketing in South-East Asia only. The company relies on network
alliances to carry out marketing works in other areas.
Taipanco Sdn Bhd, a haulage
operator, recorded about 30% drop in cargo volume for the first two
months of this year.
Its executive director Nazari
Akhbar said Taipanco had started implementing cost-cutting measures
due to the slump in both imports and exports.
“These include a freeze on new
staff recruitment and rationalisation of repair works.
“We should be able to weather the
storm until year-end but I am unsure what lies ahead next year if
the economic downturn persists,” he said.