Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Singapore port incurring extra costs to help ease global shipping congestion: Chee Hong Tat

SINGAPORE — The port of Singapore is helping to ease global bottlenecks faced by shipping lines by allowing them to not only load and unload their cargo here, but also by offering other “one-stop” or “catch-up” services including refuelling and crew changes.

Singapore port incurring extra costs to help ease global shipping congestion: Chee Hong Tat

Singapore port is taking various steps to help ease global shipping congestion, though this comes at some additional costs, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain and caused congestion in shipping routes
  • The port of Singapore is trying to ease the congestion by providing ‘one-stop’ or ‘catch-up’ services for vessels calling here
  • This, however, has led to longer waiting times and more containers being stacked in the port’s yard

 

SINGAPORE — The port of Singapore is helping to ease global bottlenecks faced by shipping lines by allowing them to not only load and unload their cargo here, but also by offering other “one-stop” or “catch-up” services including refuelling and crew changes.

This, however, has led to additional costs to the port, and will cause some hold-ups for ships calling here, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat to the media on Wednesday (Oct 20).

“The boxes now stay in our yard much longer than before they were brought back to their intended destination, and also long-dwelling boxes in our yard then put additional pressure on our yard operations,” he said.

“And as more ships come to Singapore to make use of the one-stop service and the catch-up service, it does also add on to the queues and the waiting times.’’

Despite the additional costs, Mr Chee said that port authorities have made this “conscious move based on longer term strategic considerations”.

“By opening up Singapore to be a catch-up port, and to offer this one-stop service, it will help shipping lines and their customers globally. That means, if you think about it, at a global level, from end to end, this service to the shipping lines and to the customers will help to reduce the extent of the delays,” he said.

“So by optimising the global outcome, we are incurring some added stress on our port operations,” he said.

Since last year, global supply chains have been disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the Yantian port in China was shut in May due to a coronavirus outbreak, Another factor was a blockage in the Suez Canal in April this year when a giant container ship, the Ever Given, became lodged sideways across the vital shipping lane.

The level of global vessel schedule reliability has fallen from an average of 75 per cent in the years between 2018 and 2020, to about 35 to 40 per cent this year. Vessels are now usually delayed on an average of 7.5 days.

This means that vessels have been arriving off schedule at the port of Singapore, leading to vessel bunching.

Amid these disruptions, Mr Chee said that the port of Singapore has become the go-to port for shipping lines to catch up on lost time, and also to untangle some of their operational challenges.

While he recognised that the congestion in global supply chains is a complex problem and that the services rendered at the port here would not totally remove the bottle necks, Mr Chee said that Singapore should play its role as a global hub port and help mitigate and reduce the problems that shipping lines and their customers are facing.

“When there is heavy rain, when there is a thunderstorm, we can't stop the rain, we can't stop the thunderstorm. But what we can do is offer our friends and our partners some shelter, maybe a cup of hot chocolate. So that would make things a bit better, hopefully that will allow them to continue their journey,” said Mr Chee.

To deal with the longer waiting times arising from this, Mr Chee said port operator PSA has reopened eight berths at Keppel terminal and 18,000 ground slots for about 65,000 shipping containers.

More than 2,500 Singaporeans have also been recruited since late last year.

Since September last year, PSA has also started using the yard space at Tuas port, even though it is not fully operational yet, which has also extended the yard capacity by 2,000 containers.

Besides ramping up capacity of its port and yard operations, Mr Chee said that PSA has also worked with shipping lines by expediting the inflow of some cargo that is time-sensitive.

These efforts have allowed the container throughput in Singapore to grow 3.4 per cent in the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period in 2020, and by 2.4 per cent compared to 2019, he added.

Related topics

Chee Hong Tat shipping Covid-19 coronavirus supply chain

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa