Penang fishermen keen to revive failed tuna port

The site where the international tuna port was supposed to be at Batu Maung. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
The site where the international tuna port was supposed to be at Batu Maung. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 4 — The Penang Fishermen Association has grand plans to revive the collapsed multi-million ringgit international tuna port in Batu Maung here, if only they were given the chance.

The association, known as Pen Mutiara, want to turn the approximate 20 acres of seafront land into a satellite township, offering reasonable rates and special facilities for all fishermen in the state.

"We can also revive the tuna port project and since we are all fishermen, who better than us would know about the needs of fishing boats and trawlers coming to port," Pen Mutiara chairman Md Zainol Ajamin said.

The association said it hopes the government would not sell the land to another private company that would only be concerned about earning profits instead of the welfare of the fishermen.

Md Zainol believes Pen Mutiara could work together with the Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) to develop the piece of land into a successful international port and fishermen town.

"We do not want a repeat of history where the concession for the land was given to a private company and the planned project failed miserably while millions of taxpayers' money went down the drain," he said.

The land was slotted to be developed into an international tuna port and the concession was given to Malaysian International Tuna Port Sdn Bhd(MITP) to develop in 2004 but the whole project stalled and was never completed.

The concession was cancelled in 2011.

"We read that the government had decided to sell the land to a private developer to develop the land commercially which is far different from LKIM's original proposal," Md Zainol said.

He pointed out that the land use conditions had clearly stated that this piece of land could only be used to develop the fishing sector.

"The government had ignored our complains over MITP's mismanagement of the land all these years and now they are selling it off to another private company and again, ignoring the needs of local fishermen," he said.

He demanded that the government take steps to help the fishermen, especially those in Batu Maung, and save the land from falling into the hands of another private company.

Pen Mutiara had submitted proposals on their plans to LKIM and also the federal government but Md Zainol claimed all these fell on deaf ears.

"The government should think about the welfare of all fishermen and reconsider selling this land to another private developer," he said.