Friday 12 July 2013


by : Chan Foong Hin

Today I attended as mediator and observer in the dialogue between Ports and Harbors Department, and Shipping Aagencies. This dialogue was chaired by Abel Ongkunik, Pegawai Laut A48 in order to discuss the issues of compulsory pilotage service for berthing and unberthing of ships at the five ports in Sabah effective from 1st June this year.
The requirement is in the line with the provisions of the Ports and Harbors (Pilotage) Regulations 2008 which specify compulsory pilotage service for the ports of Sabah, whereby all ships entering and leaving Sabah Ports would be required to employ the service of a licensed pilot.

The shipping agencies told in the dialogue that, they respect to the spirit of the act, which is safeguarding the safety of ships. However, the shipping agencies, which is led by Wilson Sheut, Chairman of Sabah Shipping Agents Association (Tawau Branch), strongly disagree with the requirement for compulsory pilotage service been monopolized by one particular company.

It was learnt that a company, Blue Water Pilotage & Tugboats (M) Sdn Bhd, has been awarded a contract to operate the pilotage service for five areas which included the ports of Tawau, Kunak, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Bakapit and Tungku. (Refer to Borneo Post dated 29th June 2012.)

Monopoly of compulsory pilotage service by one particular company has created a lot of adverse impacts to the shipping agents. One of the immediate adverse impacts to the shipping agents are such as extra charges on the distance between pilot boarding position to the berth.

There were 5 cases of accidents or near miss reported after Blue Water Pilotage & Tugboats (M) Sdn Bhd took over the pilotage service in Lahad Datu as the pilots provided might not have in depth local knowledge about the port situation there. In long term, any extra cost incurred would be transferred to the consumers eventually.

The mutual agreement of the dialogue today is waiving of extra charges on the distance between pilot boarding position to the berth. The shipping agencies also emphasized that they do not recognize any bills or invoices presented by the company. They would only submit their application for pilotage services to Ports and Harbors Department who will in turn issue the invoice for the pilotage services rendered.

Further investigation to the background of the company through Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) has shown that this company was formed in year 2008 (which was the year to pass the enactment). The nature of business listed in the corporate information up to 2011 year end is “DORMANT”.

Therefore, I would like to urge our Minister of Infrastructural Development to clarify, in which Ports and Harbors Department under it’s jurisdiction, on what basis a dormant company is awarded the contract to operate the pilotage services?

Why this pilotage service is being monopolized solely by a company when there are about seven licensed pilotage service companies operating out there? Is it true that one of the directors of this company was former officer in Ports and Harbors Department?

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