Congestion in Singapore Strait has been occurring for several months now, with a large number of vessels stuck in most ports around the world, and has caused serious inconvenience recently in Singapore waters. Most recently between Singapore and Indonesia, where more than a dozen sea captains say they were forced to make payments to release ships held by the Indonesian navy because they were waiting near the port of Singapore and which, according to the Indonesian authorities’ version, fall within their territorial waters.
The Singapore Strait is one of the busiest inland waterways in the world and is currently crowded with ships waiting days or weeks to dock in Singapore harbor. For years, believing they are in international waters, ships have anchored in waters east of the Strait while waiting to dock in Singapore and therefore claim not to be liable for any port charges. Now the increase in ships anchoring in that area has put Indonesian authorities on alert.
Arsyad Abdullah, naval fleet commander for the Indonesian region, assured that it is not true that the Indonesian navy has received or requested payments to release ships, however, he stated that in recent months there has been an increasing number of ships stuck for being without permission in Indonesian waters, deviating from the navigation route or stopping midway for an excessive amount of time.
Up to this point, more than 30 oil tankers, bulk carriers, and cargo vessels have been detained by the Indonesian navy in recent months and many of them have been released only after making payments of around $300,000. However, the situation is becoming increasingly complicated as the Indonesian navy may clamp down more drastically on unlicensed vessels that stop there.