Sarawak tankers exempted from double hull double bottom requirement

Lee (centre) speaks to the press.

SIBU: Oil tankers plying Sarawak waters particularly its riverine areas are now exempted from complying with the double hull double bottom requirement after the Marine Department amended the Malaysian Shipping Notice MSN16/2020, said state Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

He said this was following the publication of MSN22/200 by the department on Dec 7 which detailed the exemption for oil tankers to comply with the MSN16/2020.

“The oil tankers operating in the coastal waters and rivers in Sarawak are mostly single hull single bottom type and are deployed for carrying diesel fuel from adjacent towns to the upper river communities,” he said.

He said the fuel was mainly used for power generators in the longhouses, clinics, government stations, schools and workers’ camps, apart from vehicles and machineries owned by plantations and timber companies.

After receiving complaints from the shipping community that had faced difficulties to comply with the notice, his ministry wrote an appeal to seek exemption from the federal Ministry of Transport, which resulted in the publication of MSN22/2020.

“However, this notice shall still apply to oil tankers in Bintulu Port,” he told reporters after meeting with the shipping community at the Sarawak Rivers Board office here on Monday.

He urged the industry players especially members of Sarawak Association of Maritime Industries (SAMIN), Sabah and Sarawak Shipowners Association (SSSA) and the related tanker owners and operators to show their appreciation by strictly complying with the safety requirements and standard operating procedures set by the Marine Department.

During the meeting, Lee said, both associations, which have members operating at the Bintulu Port, expressed the difficulties they faced.

“There are six single hub single bottom tankers operating to supply diesel to the northern region of Sarawak, namely Miri, Marudi, Limbang and Lawas.

“If they are not allowed go to Bintulu Port, they have to go to Tanjung Manis Port which is farther. Furthermore, they have contracts with the oil and gas companies in Bintulu to transport 1,000,000 litres of fuel per week,” said Lee, who explained why the requirement was impractical.

But the fact that the Marine Department was willing to amend the MSN16/2020 and gave the exemption to the shipping community proved that the current federal government was willing to listen to the people’s concerns, he added.

Thus, he urged the affected shipping community operating at the Bintulu Port to write an appeal to the federal Ministry of Transport.

Lee said his ministry was seeking the understanding of its federal counterparts as MSN16/2020 affected the whole of Sarawak, whose situation was very different from the peninsula’s.

The MSN16/2020 is a notice issued by the Marine Department on Aug 5 to clarify to the shipping community on the registration of oil tankers under the Malaysian flag, general categories oil tankers and the restrictions on the type of oil permitted to be carried as cargo. – Bernama