Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – State-owned port operator Pelindo I has denied selling illegal fuel to Singapore boats through ship-to-ship transfer in the waters off the coast of Nipah Island, Riau Islands.
A tugboat belonging to the company, Sei Deli III, was caught by customs and excise officers for allegedly conducting illegal fuel trade in the waters on Sunday, prompting allegations that the the port operator was involved in the case.
The boat was seized by the officers when transferring fuel to another tugboat near the island.
Pelindo I senior vice president M. Eriansyah said Pelindo I never sold illegal fuel to Singaporean ships. He explained that Sei Deli III, which is currently being investigated by the Customs and Excise Patrol Team in Batam, was transferring fuel to TB Celebes, another tugboat also owned by the port operator.
Eriansyah said Sei Deli III was used to assist other ships to enter the port, as well as to conduct ship-to-ship activity.
"We want to make it clear that Sei Deli III was transferring fuel to TB Celebes at that time, which belongs to Pelindo I as well. The fuel will be used for their own needs, including ship electricity and to keep the engine running," Eriansyah told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
He explained that Pelindo I had conducted an operational cooperation with TB Celebes since August. Pelindo I has obtained the required permits for the ships' operation, including the transhipment. He also added that this activity was aimed at increasing the non-tax revenue for the state budget, and all taxes incurred by the activities have been paid every month.
"Pelindo I has six tugboats and five pilot ships that are operated in several areas in Riau Islands, such as Batuampar, Kabil, Tanjung Uncang and Nipah. All of them have official permits," he said.
However, he said Pelindo I would follow the investigation process. He also added that he was sure this investigation would be conducted properly. (dpk)