To ensure the logistics sector continues to operate as the country imposes a movement control order (CPP) is one of the major challenges faced by Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong in the early days of steering the Ministry of Transport.
Sharing the experience in an interview with the media on his 100 days in the ministry, Wee, who was appointed Minister of Transport on March 9, said following the implementation of the MCO to address the Covid-19 outbreak, the logistics sector was facing difficulties in the delivery of goods.
Malaysia has implemented the MCO effective March 18 nationwide to curb the spread of Covid-19 followed by the conditional movement control order (CMCO) from May 4 and the latest Recovery movement control order (RMCO) from June 10 until Aug 31.
“The biggest challenge during MCO for the logistics sector is how to ensure goods reach their destination smoothly,” Wee said.
Another challenge at that time was to mobilise resources and convince logistics sector players to operate because there were rumours Covid-19 could be transmitted through the air, he said.
“So we need to quickly talk to the stakeholders and logistics companies to make sure they could operate as usual,” he said.
At the same time, he said the Ministry of Transport had to ensure that ports continued to operate during the MCO by conducting disinfectant exercise once every five days and to oversee relocation of stranded containers in the port area elsewhere to make way for other containers to be exported.
“The move has provided relief to all stakeholders because they were concerned about the supply of raw materials to manufacture their goods. The port is a strategic place for us to start, so since the MCO we have made sure it does not cease operations even for a day,” he said.
Wee said the government’s quick decision to buy 50 million pieces of face masks from China and bring the goods to Malaysia by plane was the right move to meet the needs of the frontliners and consumers while helping to curb sudden price hikes.
“We were shocked to learn how quickly the price of face masks shot up to RM2.50 to RM3 a piece and the Ministry of Transport’s suggestion to the Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) at that time was to use MAS Cargo and other non-operating aircraft to transport the goods, “ he said.
He said aviation services were mobilised at that time because shipping services were forced to suspend operations following lockdown in some countries.
On the aviation sector which was most affected by the pandemic, Wee said there was a huge drop in passenger capacity.
“At one time we only managed three per cent domestic passengers of the normal passenger load while international passengers were less than two per cent as most airlines stopped flying or flights were cancelled,” he said.
“So we figured we could not stop all our flights, we needed to be selective and find ways on how to provide transportation to people especially from the Peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak.
Wee also thanked the public transport operators who continued their operations despite the MCO even though the number of passengers dropped by 90 per cent.
“Although the number of passengers were small, we must ensure that standard operating procedures were adhered to by ensuring that disinfectant exercise was carried out despite operating at a loss and catering mainly to the B40 group who have no choice but to use public transport,” he said. — BERNAMA