GEORGE TOWN, Jan 17 — The Penang Port Commission (PPC) said it has a RM200 million plan to expand the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) pending the resolution of a land dispute with the Penang state government.
PPC chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the SPCT has been seeing an increase in number of cruise arrivals, with 2016 recording over one million foreign and local passengers.
"We know there is a need to expand the terminal and we even have a plan lined up to expand it to meet with the increasing passenger arrivals," he told reporters at a press conference today.
He said they were now unable to start the expansion project because of the land dispute with the state government.
PPC, which is under the Transport Ministry, was leasing the SPCT from the Penang state government before the lease expired in 2013.
Now, PPC only has a temporary six-month occupation certificate to operate the SPCT on the land as its attempts to extend the lease for the land to 99 years were rejected by the state.
PPC applied to extend the land lease to 99 years and paid a premium of over RM10 million for the terminal covering three acres and another RM4 million for the adjoining complex buildings covering two acres back in 2010.
The Penang state government initially approved the application for lease extension, but later rejected the offer and returned the premiums.
Tan said he started discussions with state representatives to resolve the land dispute issue a couple months back.
"I started discussions with them in November last year and I am seeing some positive developments from the discussions," he said.
Tan, who had only been appointed as the PPC chairman last year, said he had chosen to remain silent over the whole issue in the past year in hopes of resolving it in "secret" discussions with the state government.
"I had no choice but to call the press conference today because the tourism exco Law Heng Kiang had accused the federal government of not wanting to expand the terminal when we are unable to do so without the lease extension," he said.
Two days ago, Law had said more cruises are coming to SPCT and that it is time for the terminal to be expanded to meet the increasing number of tourist arrivals.
PPC is a federal government regulatory body that manages and maintains all port facilities and services in Penang.