Covid-19 Hits Not Only Oceangoing Shipping, but Also Domestic: INSA

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has hit the shipping business in Indonesia, causing a drop in volume of both oceangoing and domestic trade, and finally resulting in the shipping players revenue decrease, according to Indonesian National Shipowners Association (INSA).

INSA chairwoman Carmelita Hartoto recently said the volume of cargo exported and imported to and from China has declined by 14 to 18%. Shipments to other countries such as Singapore and South Korea have also declined, while domestic cargo shipments have dropped 5 to 10%.

“When the volume decreased, surely, shipping lines income would drop,” Carmelita said.

On the other hand, according to Carmelita, operating cost has increasing significantly. The clearance process at seaports is another challenge that has resulted in higher operational costs. She said that the clearance process had been further complicated by additional procedures such as ship disinfection, ship crew health checks and travel history checks. “This has increased operational costs,” said Carmelita.

She also said efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 had also disrupted administrative work. With physical distancing and work-from-home policies in place, business players have found it difficult to carry out administrative work, such as acquiring ship certificate, because of staff shortages.

On the technical side, Carmelita said ship owners also faced difficulties conducting maintenance because of the limited number of workers available.

In addition to cargo shipping, the coronavirus outbreak has also hit the passenger shipping lines due to lack of passengers.

This coronavirus outbreak has made state-owned shipping company PT Pelni suffer a sharp decline in passenger numbers since early February.

PELNI corporate secretary Yahya Kuncoro said the drop came further the government imposed social restrictions to curb the outbreak in March.

He said that a number of the company’s passenger ships, such as the KM Dobonsolo, KM Ciremai, KM Nggapulu, KM Dempo, KM Sinabung and KM Leuser, could not operate optimally because many regional administrations had closed their ports to prevent the spread of the virus. Although the ships are still allowed to transport cargo, the closure of ports had severely hurt business, he added.

Most ports in Papua, including in Jayapura, Timika, Agats, Merauke, Nabire, Biak, Serui, Sorong, Manokwari, Kaimana, Fakfak and Wasior, have been closed for passenger ships. Several other ports in Maluku, such as in Saumlaki, Namrole, Sanana and Dobo have also been also closed.

Ports have also been closed in Batulicin and Bontang in East Kalimantan; Waingapu and Larantuk in East Nusa Tenggara; Blinyu and Tanjung Pandan in Bangka Belitung; Awerange and Bitung in Sulawesi and Letung Tarempa in Riau Islands.

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