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GEORGE TOWN, Jan 8 ― The Penang state government is prepared to take over possession of the iconic ferries if Penang Port Commission (PPC) is willing to gift the vessels to the state, said state exco Zairil Khir Johari.
The Transport and Infrastructure Committee chairman said the state government wants to keep the 45-year-old vessels, that have long been a symbol of Penang, from being turned into scrap metal.
“Since PPC and ferry operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd do not have any future plans to maintain the iconic ferries as a mode of transport, we propose that the ferries be given to the state as a gift to the people of Penang,” he said in a statement.
He said currently, only one of the iconic ferries are still in operations to take two-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles across the Penang north channel.
He said the lone ferry is on borrowed time as it will also be retired once the new vehicle transporters arrive in 2022.
The foot passenger ferries have already been replaced with fast boats from January 1.
“The state understands the people’s sentiments who do not agree with the ending of the iconic ferries’ service,” he said.
The Penang lawmaker said this was why the state made the decision to take over possession of the iconic ferries in a state exco meeting on January 6.
“Since PPC has no plans for the iconic ferries, we want to take over possession of the vessels to keep it in operations,” he said.
He stressed that this does not mean that the state wanted to take over the whole ferry operations.
“We only want the iconic ferries and we will look into ways to revive the ferries and the costs involved,” he said when contacted.
He said he will be meeting with PPC to discuss the state’s proposal next week.