Prasarana yet to get funds for Penang ferry service revamp, sources claim

Many of Penang’s iconic ferries are over 40 years old and face major maintenance issues. — Picture by KE Ooi
Many of Penang’s iconic ferries are over 40 years old and face major maintenance issues. — Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — Prasarana Malaysia Bhd has not received the funds needed to overhaul Penang’s ageing ferry service nearly eight months after the Transport Ministry said it would allocate RM90 million for this, according to sources.

The Star reported today that the Penang ferry service, which is close to a century-old, needs urgent upgrades but quoted sources as saying funds to refurbish the ferries and terminals on both the island and mainland “are not forthcoming”.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced in August last year that ferry operator Prasarana Malaysia Bhd would be allocated RM90 million for the upgrade.

Of this, RM13.7 million was to be spent on repairing the six existing ferries over a three-year period, according to the English daily.

The sources said Prasarana is still awaiting the allocation as of this month.

Many of Penang’s iconic ferries are over 40 years old and face major maintenance issues amid increasing pressure for the operator to sustain the loss-making business, which is said to be kept afloat mainly for heritage and aesthetic reasons.

The Star quoted sources as saying maintaining the ferries alone accounts for half of the RM31 million annual expenditure, which could increase as the vessels get older.

Revenue for the service averages around RM7 million annually to create an operating loss of RM24 million, the paper reported.

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