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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 25 — The Transport Ministry had intended to suspend Penang’s ferry operations for three months from September 1, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow revealed today.
He said the ministry’s secretary-general notified the Penang state secretary of the planned suspension ostensibly to allow for renovations at the terminal.
“We were informed about two weeks ago that these renovation works is in preparation to accommodate new ferries,” he said in a press conference at his office today.
He said the ministry also planned to provide shuttle services as an alternative during the three months.
Chow also disclosed that new ferry fleet would be managed by Penang Port Sdn Bhd that is under the Penang Port Commission, and not Rapid Ferry Sdn Bhd.
Today, the Penang CM said two weeks’ notice was vastly insufficient for the lengthy disruption to such a vital service in the state.
The state government also requested for a detailed plan for the terminal renovations and the introduction of new ferries, which he said the ministry did not provide.
“So, we asked them to postpone the plan until they can prepare a full plan on the renovations and operations of new ferries to be presented to the state,” he said.
The state administration was seeking the ministry’s complete plans for the service including what type of ferries will be introduced and whether these will include vehicle transports as well as catamarans.
Chow said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong has invited him for a meeting this Thursday to discuss the state’s transport issues including the Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion, the ferry services and Penang’s proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) alignment.
Yesterday, ferry operations were suspended as all four ferries in operation required repairs.
Rapid Ferry, in a statement today, said two of the ferries — the Pulau Talang and the Pulau Kapas — have been out of commission for over a month due to urgently needed engine maintenance and miscellaneous repairs that could take around six weeks as parts must be imported from Sweden and Ireland.
One ferry — the Pulau Angsa — resumed operations today while the Pulau Undan is expected to be operational by August 27.