Sweet relief: 2,340 tonnes of sugar to arrive in Sabah to ease supply shortage

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 2,340 tonnes of sugar will arrive in Sabah in stages this month to alleviate shortage of supply in the state.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Sabah office director Georgie Abas said 590 tonnes will arrive via Sepanggar port here, 650 tonnes at Sandakan port, and the remaining 1,100 tonnes at Tawau port.

The granulated sugar supply is from the country's two main sugar manufacturers, he said in a statement on Friday (July 16).

"Thus, the supply in Sabah is expected to recover in August," he added.

In April, the issue of granulated sugar shortage at several areas in Sabah was reported where investigation found that supply from the two sugar manufacturers that are based in Peninsular Malaysia have reduced to half from normal.

There were several reasons including a technical issue with broken machinery at one of the factories, as well as Covid-19 cases spreading among factory workers that affected productivity.

"There was also a delay of delivery via ships, due to change of ship schedules," said Georgie.

He said to ensure that sugar supply is still available in the market due to supply issues between April and July, they earlier announced a (self-control) ruling limiting 2kg of sugar per person at grocery/retail level.

"While this may have given a negative perception among the public that it was difficult to get the supply, the self-control restriction is actually important so that sugar supplies are made available to more consumers," he said.

In another development, the Sabah Domestic Trade Ministry also advised those involved in giving out food assistance to plan their booking and purchasing at each district so that essential items do not run out.

Georgie was referring to reports of basic and essential supplies like cooking oil, eggs, sugar, flour and rice – which are normally included in food basket aid for those impacted by the pandemic – were bought at groceries in large quantities.

"This caused consumers in several areas to face shortages and they had to go and purchase them at locations further away, or wait for new supplies to come in.

"We do not want the impression of empty shelves at certain retailers to lead to a negative reaction, such as panic-buying among consumers.

"So cooperation from NGOs and humanitarians is vital to ensure they plan how to get their supplies from each district without affecting the market supply in that area," he added.

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