Coronavirus: Malaysia seeks to clear congested ports to move essentials amid curbs

Malaysia restricted internal movement and shut down non-essential businesses until April 14, 2020.
Malaysia restricted internal movement and shut down non-essential businesses until April 14, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's freight forwarders have been asked to clear shipments as major ports clog up in the second week of a restricted movement order imposed to fight the coronavirus, the transport minister said on Thursday (March 26).

Malaysia has closed its borders to travellers, restricted internal movement and shut down non-essential businesses until April 14 to contain the spread of the virus.

Ports and logistics companies were allowed to operate, but non-essential businesses faced problems moving goods out of ports, the Federation of Malaysia Freight Forwarders said on Monday.

It said in a statement that the backlog of non-essential goods, which make up 80 per cent of cargo volumes, would affect port operations and capacity.

"Currently, Port Klang, Port of Penang, and Johor Port in Pasir Gudang have reached nearly 100 per cent of their capacities to hold goods," Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said in a statement.

The congestion must be cleared to avoid disruptions to the supply of imported essential goods, Mr Wee said.

The ministry gave freight forwarders and haulage companies a special exemption to remove their goods, including non-essential items, out of ports over the weekend.

Malaysia's tally of coronavirus cases has surged to 2,031, making it the hardest-hit country in South-east Asia.