Kuching port handles 6.7pc more cargo

MALAYSIA'S port of Kuching handled 6.7 per cent more cargo during the first eight months of this year than in the same period last year.

The Kuching Port Authority (KPA) said total goods handled during January-August this year amounted to 2.22 million tonnes.

Imports accounted for 1.68 million tonnes while the remainder was export cargo.

Between January and August last year, the port handled 2.07 million tonnes of cargo, of which 1.62 million tonnes were imports and 449,756 exports.

The KPA said that with the exception of the Tanah Puteh terminal, all other wharves - Pending, Biawak, Sejingkat and private landing jetties - recorded higher cargo throughout during January-August 1993 compared with January-August 1992.

Shipments via Pending increased by 14.2 per cent to 1.22 million tonnes during the eight-month period this year from 1.08 million tonnes handled in the corresponding period last year.

Container throughput during the period increased by 14.7 per cent to 29,979 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 26,119 TEUs shipped during January-August 1992.

Shipment of goods in containers is getting popular, with tonnage rising from 430,418 tonnes during January-August 1992 to 497,514 tonnes during January-August this year.

Cargo landed and exported via the Biawak terminal totalled 348,078 tonnes during the eight-month period this year, up from 333,807 handled in the same period last year.

At the same time, shipments via Sejingkat rose 13.36 per cent to 47,758 tonnes compared with 42,129, the KPA said.

The port authority said private landing jetty operators also recorded marginal increases in their cargo handling to 404,596 tonnes against 399,608 during the period under review.

Shipments through Tanah Puteh fell from 224,275 tonnes during January-August 1992 to 186,385 in the same period this year, it added.

While the number of ship calls at Kuching wharves dropped to 1,299 from 1,356, the gross registered tonnage rose to 2.95 million tonnes from 2.87 million.

This showed that more bigger vessels were calling at Kuching, the statement said.

Meanwhile, piracy declined but smuggling and marine pollution recorded an upsurge in the Straits of Malacca this year, Malaysian Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak said.

The number of piracy cases reported dropped from seven last year to five so far this year, he said.

''However, the problem of smuggling and pollution have gone up compared with last year,'' he said at the Malaysia-Indonesia General Border Committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Nevertheless, he was confident the problem could be eliminated in time through strong co-operation between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mr Najib said the Sarawak government had allocated M$20 million (about HK$60 million) to build a checkpoint at Tebedu in Sarawak, bordering Entikong in West Kalimanatan, which was expected to be completed in 1995.

Malaysia and Indonesia should join hands to step up defence in the interest of security and stability in the region as well as to strengthen ASEAN objectives, he said.