Tuesday, December 7

‘KM’ certified ships can now ply to all ports nationwide: Lau

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SIBU: All ‘KM’ (Kerajaan Malaysia) certified ships can now ply to all ports nationwide with immediate effect.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew announced this after a meeting with about 60 representatives of the Sarawak Shipping Association and the Sibu Coastal Shipowners Association here yesterday.

Also present were the Marine Department’s director-general Datuk Captain Ahmad Othman, the department’s state director Wan Endok Wan Salleh and other senior officials.

Lau told reporters that earlier, a decision was made where such ships needed to obtain international certification because the South China Sea was then designated as international waters.

“Once you crossed into international waters, you need to have international certifications like Lloyd, NSK and so forth,” he said.

“These are very costly to get. They also demand additional equipment found on more sophisticated and larger ocean going ships which will certainly add to the costs,” he added.

Lau said as a result, the shipowners, including those from the peninsular states, had appealed against the decision to the Transport Ministry. He said  yesterday’s decision would benefit about 4,000 ships in Sarawak alone.

At the same time, the owners had also appealed to the ministry for the survey on KM certification to be carried out by the Marine Department again, Lau said.

Previously, it had privatised the service, he said, adding that the company concerned then started to charge high fees.

“This was not the only problem as shipowners have to put up with a lot of delays due to insufficient surveyors from the company,” Lau said.

“Now the department with its offices nationwide will have to continue to do this again and with reasonable fees. It can appoint local qualified marine engineers and naval architects to do so on its behalf,” he said.

Lau also advised shipowners not to compromise on safety standards and quality in the construction of their ships.

He said his ministry had received increasing reports of casualties on board their ships.

On the current marine laws being used in Sabah and Sarawak, Lau said these needed to be reviewed.

“For instance, Sarawak is still using its Marine Shipping Act 1960. Some of the things are a bit outdated,” he said.

The federal government had suggested for the two states to merge their laws together with the rest to allow for the formation of a single Malaysia Shipping Act, Lau said.

So far, the two state governments had yet to find a suitable time to come together to discuss and agree on this, he said.

On the shortage of qualified manpower in the shipping industry, Lau advised local shipping companies to consider employing graduates from the Alam, the country’s first maritime academy in Melaka.

He said he would talk to the Human Resource Ministry on the possibility of offering financial grants or scholarships to those pursuing courses at Alam and the newly established Sarawak Maritime Academy. — Bernama