WESTPORTS LAUDED FOR SMOOTH FLOW OF TRAFFIC
Continuous service improvement benefits all stakeholders, says AHM deputy president
OOI TEE CHING
HAULIERS and truck drivers acknowledge traffic congestion at Westports has normalised and urge continued improvement in services provided by Westports Holdings Bhd and the Customs Department.
“Since Westports and Customs have put in additional manpower at the clearance gates on July 23, the traffic flow has improved. Continuous service improvement benefits all stakeholders,” said Association of Malaysian Hauliers (AMH) deputy president Soo Chee Yeong.
“Massive traffic congestion lasting for hours at Westports, which is Malaysia’s main trading gateway, does have an impact on Malaysia’s ratings in the ease of doing business,” he said, here, yesterday.
“If the traffic flow is not smooth at all times, it would eventually affect Westports contribution to Port Klang’s 11th placing on the world’s best seaport ranking,” he added.
Also present were AMH president Nazari Akhbar, vice-president R. Visnu, honorary secretary Chandra Mohan, council members Judy Chong and Richard Lim, and executive secretary Mohd Hanif Abdul Ghani.
AMH members, which represent 70 per cent of hauliers in the country, own some 13,000 trucks, moving cargo in and out of seaports. Visnu explained that hauliers and truck drivers are the first to suffer when there is massive congestion due to lane closure, power failure, breakdown in Customs computer system or even inadequate manpower at the checkpoints.
“When there is delay in pick-up, there will be unnecessary charges such as demurrage and storage amounting to at least RM300 per container. We are forced to absorb the charges even though it is not our fault,” he said.
“When traffic is smooth, our drivers can do four or even five trips. But when there is congestion, as what had happened on July 22, our productivity plunged by 40 per cent,” he said.
“There are usually about 7,000 movements a day at Westports. If the traffic flow can be further improved, we can move more goods and everybody benefits.”
Association of Selangor Container Drivers president Hisham Bakar, who was also at the media briefing, noted that peak-hour congestion at Westports does take a heavy toll on truck drivers’ health and their income.
“Delivery of goods is a highly stressed job as we have tight deadlines to meet. While stuck in the queue for many hours, our members are not able to go for toilet breaks or eat dinner,” he said.
More importantly, Hisham urge the government to upgrade safety along the main cargo route leading to Port Klang’s terminals — Westports and Northport — where some 50,000 cargo laden vehicles travel daily along the pothole-riddled and dimly lit FT 181 route, transporting goods for export worth some RM500 billion a year.
“We urge the government to upgrade the safety on route FT 181 to construct a dedicated motorcycle lane and install more street lighting because the current heavy traffic and dimly-lit conditions is causing a lot of road accidents and deaths,” he said.
The 17.7km toll-free Pulau Indah Expressway, also known as Federal Territory (FT) 181 route, connects Pandamaran in the Shah Alam Expressway to Westports in Pulau Indah.
Since 1995, the four-laned FT 181 is open for public use.
A year ago, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof reportedly said that his ministry was only allocated RM240 million to upgrade five junctions along FT 181 under the 11th Malaysia Plan (from 2016 to 2020) . He said the government would need RM400 million to build a dedicated motorcycle lane and another RM8 million for more street lighting throughout FT 181.
Association of Malaysian Hauliers (AMH) president Nazari Akhbar (right) and AMH deputy president Soo Chee Yeong at a press conference in Klang yesterday.