Call upon the State Government cancel Channel Maintenance Recovery Charges

I welcome the Kuching Port Authority’s announcement to defer the collection of “Channel Maintenance Recovery Charges” after I brought up the objection in the media on 29-6-2016 against the collection of the said Charges.
As always, it was only the DAP objecting to the said Charges on behalf of the people. SUPP just kept quiet about it, afraid to object to any of the State Government’s policy until green light is given by Adenan.
This is again another proof of an effective opposition which saves Sarawakians an estimated sum of RM11 million for the one-year period starting from 1-6-2016.
The initial announcement for the collection of the said Charges was made in June, 2016 to take effect on 1-6-2016 and the rates charged were
RM36.25 per TEU (RM35.25 per 20’ container & RM72.50 per 40’ container)
RM1.00 per ton or loose cargo
This additional charge constitute approximately an extra 20% increment in port charges on cargo shipment.
While it is good that shippers are now spared the said Charges, there is still no justification for the Kuching Port Authority to start collecting the Charge starting 1-6-2017.
Firstly, channel is public infrastructure. The Government has a duty to maintain it, just like roads and drains. The shippers has already paid port charges and taxes to the Government. As such, there should not be another extra 20% charges for the maintenance of the channel.
Secondly, the channel deepening project is only slated to be completed by 2019. Therefore, KPA should not start its collection of the said Charges before the project was completed.
Thirdly, transportation costs on goods to and from Sarawak is a lot higher than the transportation costs on goods to and from West Malaysia. Such high transportation costs are not hurting the general Sarawak consumers but also hurting our Small medium industry. The State Government should not add further costs on the already high transportation costs of Sarawak.
I therefore call upon the State Government to cancel this Channel Maintenance Recovery Charges in toto, not just deferring it to 1-6-2017. The KPA should also refund those “Channel Maintenance Recovery Charges” collected from the forwarding and shipping companies.
Chong Chieng Jen
MP for Bandar Kuching
ADUN for Kota Sentosa