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Monday May 12, 2008

Straits of Malacca traffic set to increase

THE annual traffic volume at the already congested Straits of Malacca is expected to further swell by 42.9% to about 100, 000 vessels in less than a decade, according to Malaysian Shipowners Association (Masa) chairman Nordin Mat Yusoff.

The forecast is based on growing trade volume as well as the up trend from the 44,000 vessels plying the straits annually in 1999 to about 70,000 vessels recorded last year.

“With the increase in the traffic volume in one of the most important maritime highways, work must be done to maintain the current peaceful state of security as well as enhancing the navigational safety measures,” he told reporters last week.

Although the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre has not recorded any pirate attacks in the straits in the first quarter of this year, Nordin said, there should be no room for complacency.

“Nevertheless, Masa applauds the various capacity building measures of the littoral states, namely Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, in enhancing their surveillance in the Straits of Malacca.

“We also welcome the fact that more users of the important waterway, apart from the long-standing contributor, Japan, have now come forward to assist the littoral states in maintaining the security and safety of the straits.

“The increasing volume of shipping traffic has placed considerable demand on resources and cost for the three states and the assistance from the international users of the straits is much appreciated,” he said.

Nordin said Masa, which hopes to create wider interest from the international maritime community in safeguarding the Straits of Malacca, had included a discussion pertaining to the matter at its forthcoming international maritime conference to be held next month.

The 5th Asia Maritime And Logistics Conference and Exhibition 2008 will be held from June 24 to 26 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency has been invited to present a paper on the issue of safety and security of the Straits of Malacca.


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