TUARAN: All 18 private jetties in the state’s oil palm industry are allowed to continue operations, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau.
The Trade and Industry Minister said the jetties are allowed to operate starting Sunday, after they were closed on April 17.
Tangau said his ministry received feedback from all quarters including the Malaysian Palm Oil Association Sabah (MPOA Sabah) as well as smallholders who are affected as they are unable to transport their harvested fruit bunches. ”
My ministry carried out our own studies and raised the issue in the daily Sabah Covid-19 Command Centre meeting. In the end, the decision was made on Saturday to allow the 18 jetties to start operations today,” he said.
On Saturday, MPOA-Sabah in a statement expressed its concern over the closure of private jetties operated by plantation companies in Sabah, stressing that the move will affect the oil palm supply chain in the state. It disclosed that Sabah Port Authority (SPA) circulated a letter, dated 17 April 2020, on the closure of all private jetties in Sabah.
MPOA Sabah pointed out that there are more than 16 private jetties currently operated by the plantation companies in Sabah specifically for shipments of fresh fruit bunches (FFB), crude palm oils (CPO) and palm kernels (PK) from one point to another point of the supply chain.
“These jetties are not entry or exit jetties for use by people – only dedicated for oil palm products. The closure will affect many plantation companies in Sabah and their respective supply chain including smallholders in Sabah that are relying on their jetties for logistics.
“We appreciate the SPA’s efforts to strengthen the preventive measures on transmission of Covid-19 for the sake of public safety. The industry is adhering to the SOP to prevent and mitigate the transmission in the operations which include the jetties. We are committed in the prevention and join the government in the fight against Covid-19,” MPOA Sabah said.
The industry, it stressed, is equally concerned on the negative impacts of this closure likely to have on their workers’ safety and collateral consequences.
The jetties are critical components of the supply chain to keep the operations of oil palm estates, mills, CPO refineries and kernel crushing plants running to produce the essential food and for exports to generate revenue and taxes for the state coffer, MPOA Sabah explained.
The affected supply chain concerned are located far away, where road accessibility is either too far or too difficult to reach.
These jetties are used solely by the respective operators’ own FFB, CPO and kernels, it pointed out.
“With the above closure of jetties, the palm oil supply chain is disrupted across the affected areas throughout the state of Sabah. This is notwithstanding that Sabah state government has earlier given a conditional approval for oil palm plantations and mills in six east coast districts to restart operations after they were ordered to stop on March 30. ”
The closure means no shipments for FFB, CPO and kernels. This will quickly lead to operation stoppage in the mills and estates due to the limits of storage capacity. It will be a domino effect across the affected supply chain,” MPOA Sabah lamented.
Tangau pointed out that the oil palm industry is not only among the state government’s important economic sector but also a source of income for locals.
The oil palm industry, he said, has provided jobs to locals and people from neighbouring countries.
According to him, the jetties were initially ordered closed as a measure to stop any movement into Sabah. ”
We have many foreign workers and therefore need to exercise case as the Covid-19 positive cases in Indonesia and the Philippines are also on the rise. I however would like to remind all oil palm industry players to always adhere to the Covid-19 SOP and preventive measures laid down by the government. ”
If there are any Covid-19 cases recorded in the areas the jetties are located, they will be closed,” the Tuaran Member of Parliament said when met after presenting food aid to those in Tuaran who are affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The food aid for 185 recipients were donated by the Lions Club and distributed to villagers in Dungang, Marabahai, Timbok, Lapasan, Pendamai, Telibong, Kauluan, Namadan, Rangalau Baru, Lok Nunuk, Topokon and parents of Sekolah Chen Sin Tuaran.
Also present were Tangau’s political secretary Joisin Romut, Tuaran district officer Mohd Sofian Alfian Nair and Tuaran Lions Club president Frankie Goh.
Source : The Borneo Post