Penang all at sea over ‘ferry service’ retention

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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has asked the finance minister to clarify what exactly he meant when he told the Dewan Rakyat that Penang’s iconic ferry services would continue, with a RM30 million allocation from the ministry.

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This is because the port operators are likely to go ahead with their plans to retire all but one of the old ferries at the end of the month.

Tengku Zafrul Aziz had told parliament that port operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) would be asked to continue with the “iconic ferry service”.

The announcement was welcomed by many, including the Penang government, as it was seen as a commitment to keep the old ferries running.

However, PPSB has said only the ferry “services” would continue but with new water buses and transporters in 18 months. PPSB has no clue about the old ferries being kept in service.

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PPSB plans to retire the two current ferries by 2022. From Jan 1, only one will operate, to carry motorcycles while all foot passengers will be required to use speedboats from the Swettenham Pier cruise terminal.

At a press conference today, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said there was a stark difference between what was being presented by PPSB and Tengku Zafrul and this had to be clarified.

“We should give them time to get further details from the finance or transport ministries if the plans presented earlier are still in play or not,” he said.

On Tuesday, Penang Port Commission (PPC) and PPSB said they would spend RM64 million to buy five new vessels, two of which would transport motorcycles and bicycles.

According to the federal port regulators PPC, the amount would cover the cost of upgrading the terminals on the island and mainland.

One of the last two remaining old ferries will be used to transport only motorcycles until the new vessels arrive in 2022. After that, both older vessels will be converted into floating museums or restaurants. – FMT

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