According to Malaysia’s Port Klnag Authority, the dockside at Port Klang is awash with unwanted containers. Some 280 containers containing plastic and tyre waste sit abandoned at the port.
Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Capt K. Subramaniam said that at the height of the problem, the port had almost 800 containers of such waste.
“But we have managed to clear some of them over the years. Currently, we still have 280 containers in the Northport and Westport, which are both our terminals,” he said.
The abandoned cargoes, said Subramaniam, are kept for a maximum of four months or until they are cleared by the consignees.
This, however, results in storage costs that have to be absorbed by PKA, amounting to between RM20mil and RM25mil, he added.
He said some of the wastes were brought in for recycling by genuine shippers but ended up being abandoned due to unpaid freight charges by local consignees.
“Due to incomplete documents or delay in obtaining documentation of cargo ownership, the shippers are unable to prove that they are the owners of the cargo, which are eventually abandoned,” he said.
It is possible that the named importer has seen a change in market conditions and by abandoning the containers can perhaps ship in cheaper waste materials, or perhaps the iporter ha overestimated demand and has too much stock.
Subramaniam said failure by shipping lines and consignees to obtain import permits issued by the Department of Environment (DoE) and the National Solid Waste Management Department (JPSPN) is also a reason as to why some of the cargoes were not cleared.
“These two agencies are very strict and will only issue permits based on the law, therefore there are chances that the receivers of the cargo may never get their permits.
“Some have committed to the importation before obtaining the permits. The law says you need to have the permit upfront and only then can you finalise the consignment but this is not followed,” he said.
Subramaniam said some shipping lines do not check if the consignees have the necessary permits prior to accepting the freight, assuming that all paperwork is done.
Cargoes that have not been cleared after four months will be disposed, which can cost PKA between RM5,000 and RM12,000 per container, he said.
“The laws are very clear but some of them choose to ignore them. I think enforcement is the answer to this,” he said.
The PKA, said Subramaniam, has also taken proactive measures by proposing to agencies to come up with stricter regulations and penalties to put an end to the problem.
“Right now, the shippers might get away with no penalty as there are no such regulations, so we have highlighted this matter to the DoE and JPSPN. This is to teach the consignees or shippers to be more careful. But this will take time,” he added.