Despite battling two perfect storms, namely the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the year, and the recent unprecedented flash floods, which impacted its operations, Northport (Malaysia) Bhd (Northport), a member of MMC Group, ended 2021 on a high note with a remarkable record-breaking performance.
On Dec 30 at 11.15 am, Northport successfully hit a new record with an all-time high container volume in a year after the 3,305,765th container was discharged from the Interasia Horizon vessel, surpassing the previous record of 3,305,764 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) set in 2010. The 2021 throughput to date is 20.7% higher than the 2020 throughput.
“We had embarked on the “Reinventing Northport” programme since the takeover of Northport by MMC Corporation Berhad group in 2016, which included refocusing our strategy to become a local gateway and Intra-Asia hub, optimizing our operating costs, replacing aging equipment, enhancing our facilities and improving our services and productivity.
“This had led us to break our highest monthly container handling performance by recording 310,865 TEUs in December last year. We were making steady progress until the pandemic hit us hard,” said Dato’ Azman Shah Mohd Yusof, Chief Executive Officer of Northport.
The major challenge for its operations came at the start of the year when the port experienced heavy congestion at its container yard due to the high number of vessel calls, where the discharge of containers from the vessels was more than the loading operation.
As was the case with most ports, overstaying transhipment containers became a huge problem as other ports were either closed or facing heavy congestion. Northport faced more than 250 vessel omissions in 2021 as shipping lines realigned their schedules and omitted port calls.
However, just as 2021 was drawing to a successful close, the second perfect storm hit the nation, Port Klang in particular.
On Dec 17, continuous heavy rain which lasted for several days caused flash floods in several areas in the Klang Valley. Northport was also impacted after more than 500 of its employees were affected by the flash floods.
Northport was quick to spring into action by providing financial assistance to its employees, including the creation of house-cleaning and repair teams to help get their staff back to work again.
“Our manpower was severely affected during the aftermath of the flash floods. Even though our port was not badly affected by the floods, most of our staff could not come to work as the access roads to the port were closed due to floods.
“We are thankful for our sister ports, Penang Port and Port of Tanjung Pelepas who sent their personnel to help us in our time of need. Within a week, we were back to normal strength again.” Dato’ Azman added.
Overall, 2021 ranks as Northport’s best year ever with many notable achievements such as winning the prestigious “Best Port Safety Management Award” from the Ministry of Transport Malaysia.