Govt steps in to help sailors 

KUALA LUMPUR: The plight of the 15 stranded crewman of the detained MV Banga Biraj in Port Klang has attracted the attention of the Government, which has promised to seek the cooperation from the ship owner to help settle the problem.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the ministry was concerned about the plight of the sailors, who had not received their salaries for eight months, and had not had a proper meal since the ship was detained. “We will do whatever we can to help,” he said.

He added that he was aware of the detained container vessel that is involved in a legal dispute.

Kong was speaking to reporters after an official visit to Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) here yesterday.

The Banga Biraj sailed into troubled waters after Northport obtained a High Court order to detain the vessel on May 4, last year.

Northport was seeking damages from the shipowner HRC Shipping Ltd in Dhaka as Banga Biraj had sailed off after knocking and damaging two quay cranes at Wharf 9 in September 2009.

A different crew 13 Bangladeshis and two Indonesians that brought the ship back to Port Klang are under detention on board without salaries and surviving only on rice, vegetables and lentils.

HRC Shipping is also caught in a complex legal tussle with its insurance company. On a separate issue, Kong said Malaysia ports had handled 6.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in the first four months of this year, which was a 10.7% growth compared with the same period last year.

He said container traffic between January and April last year was 5.8 million TEUs. He attributed the growth of the ports to the strategic position of the Straits of Malacca, which is one of the easiest shipping ways.

Kong said Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas had emerged among the top 20 best container ports in the world, standing at 13th and 17th positions respectively.