Mr Apparao Ramachandran, president of PULSE, offered the following statement to address issues arising in the transport industry following the extended Movement Control Order:
Many businesses in Malaysia have suffered due to the unprecedented nationwide restriction in movement, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic at large. Nonetheless, the local logistics companies have been exempted from restrictions under the Movement Control Order (MCO) in order to allow essential goods to reach consumers in a timely manner.
Persatuan Usahawan Logistics Semenanjung Malaysia also known as PULSE, is an association for Logistics and Transportations related industry in Peninsular Malaysia. It was established in 2017 and currently has a life membership of more than 100 logistics companies. As the president of PULSE, I would like to convey our gratitude, on behalf of the council and all its members to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Ministry of Transport (MOT), PDRM and TDM for allowing the logistics companies to continue operating our trucks for delivery of essential goods during this MCO period. PULSE would also like to convey its sincere appreciation to all the truck drivers in Malaysia who have become part of the unsung frontliners delivering important goods to the Malaysians during this pandemic.
With the exemption meted out to the logistics companies, many may be assuming that the Malaysian logistics industry is enjoying a ‘business advantage’ compared to other less fortunate sectors. This is however far from the truth. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight an issue that many parties may have overlooked when thinking of how logistics companies may have been impacted during the MCO period, and also during the pandemic, at large.
While on one side, the local logistics companies may seem to benefit from the MCO in terms of less congestion on the roads, and the currently low global fuel price, we face hard challenges due to hidden costs. The cost of operating trucks has significantly increased during this MCO period due to a number of factors including empty return trucks from outstation trips, increase in maintenance costs due to limited autoparts, labour hours charges, support systems during accidents, as well as long waiting hours for loading and unloading from warehouse of goods attributed to shortage of manpower. Additionally, we have to ensure sufficient supply of personal protective equipment for our frontliners such as face masks and gloves, as well as provision of hand sanitisers. We also have to sanitise our trucks more frequently due to the pandemic.
Furthermore, many logistics companies only end up utilising less than 10 percent of their trucks due to restrictions in delivery of non-essential goods during the MCO. The councils and members of PULSE would like to therefore urge all Malaysians to understand the critical state that we are in. It is hoped that all Malaysian residents will stay safe and obey the guidelines from the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister’s Department at all times, until we have won this war against COVID-19.
Apparao Ramachandran is the president of Persatuan Usahawan Logistics Semenanjung Malaysia (PULSE) since February 2020.
(The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Asian Trucker Media)