Transport Ministry Continues Monitoring Ferry Services
July 17, 2009 22:07 PM
LANGKAWI, July 17 (Bernama) -- The Transport Ministry continues to monitor ferry services in ports and jetties nationwide to ensure constant improvement of services.
Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the Marine Department had been instructed to make sure the quality of ferry services was improved, including being on time and having sufficient safety equipment.
"We don't want ferry operators who disregard travel schedules and shirk their responsibilities towards passengers," he told a news conference after launching the new RM310,000 Langkawi MCA building, here Friday.
Ong added that passengers expected continuous improvement of services.
He also expressed confidence of Langkawi's potential to become a world-class sailing destination in the region.
Prasarana may take over Penang ferry services
By Marina Emmanuel
SYARIKAT Prasarana Negara Bhd is likely to become the new operator of the Penang ferry services.
Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah said Prasarana has been given the mandate by the Finance Ministry to carry out a study on the viability of taking over the loss-making services from terminal operator Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB).
"The findings of the study will be presented when the National Economic Council meets on July 27," he told reporters after taking delivery of the first batch of 200 new Scania buses for Rapid Penang in Penang yesterday.
Ahmad Husni said there are many factors which the government needs to consider before deciding on whether Prasarana is to take over the iconic ferry services which currently ply across the Penang channel.
"We will need to study the overall financial position since it will involve the fare structure and possibly buying new ferries."
Ahmad Husni, however, said that the current fare structure "must be maintained" as the public cannot be burdened.
It was recently reported that the Penang Port Commission (PPC) and the Penang state government were keen on taking over the ferry operations. The state government, however, had stated from the onset that it was not keen to assume PPSB's liabilities.
PPSB had reportedly called off its listing on the main board of Bursa Malaysia due to a RM21 million loss incurred last year in the ferry operations.
A private company began the ferry service in 1920, which the PPC took over in 1956. PPSB began handling the operations from January 1 1994.
It has eight vehicular-cum-passenger double-decker ferries, but deploys only six at a time. Some 6,500 passengers and 3,000 vehicles use the service daily. Foot passengers pay RM1.20 for the ferry ride, while cars pay RM7.70.
In 1994, PPSB signed a 30-year concession agreement with PPC to operate the ferry service and Penang Port.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Husni said the government has no plans for a third stimulus package. "We are not looking at another stimulus package as the first and second packages are sufficient to focus on our economy."
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research had on Thursday stated that Malaysia may need another stimulus package to boost spending next year.
Business community wants longer, larger wharf
By James Ling Friday, August 21st, 2009
TOO SMALL FOR THE TOWN: Bleteh Wharf as seen from
the top of the Kapit waterfront during the current dry spell.
KAPIT: Bleteh Wharf needs to be extended and expanded to meet the increasing de-mand of this growing town and its sub-urban areas.
The wharf was built more than 20 years ago for boats plying the Kapit-Sibu route. It has served its purpose well, but now it is much too small to keep up with the increasing volume of goods. In fact it is congested all the time.
“And during a long drought, loading and unloading of goods is extremely difficult because cargo vessels can’t berth at the wharf which is on dry land far away from the water line,” said a player in the local transport industry, Shia Shui Poh, who is proprietor of Shia’s Transport Company and Kah Siang Furniture.
In the beginning, the wharf had a single lane. This allowed only one boat to berth and one vehicle at a time to get through to it.
Nowadays, two or three cargo boats would berth at the wharf and so the trucks often have to wait for two to three hours to take turns to get the goods out.
Shia, who said this waste of time is bad economics for the local business community, suggested that the government should build another lane.
He pointed out that when the water level is low the cargo boats are too far from the top of the wharf for them to use their lifting equipment.
“Also, we have to plan well in advance because once the Bakun hydro-electric dam begins storing up water by the end of the year we expect even lower water level,” he said.
Bleteh Wharf is the only facility for loading and unloading of goods here. Hence its users want the government to look into the matter urgently. During the rainy season the area on the left side would be under water.
Pontoon needed at Kapit wharf
By James Ling
Friday, August 28th, 2009
CONGESTED: Express boats line up to
berth at the steps of the wharf.
KAPIT: The absence of a pontoon is putting people at risk of falling into the Rajang River when getting on or off the express boat at the wharf here.
A couple of mishaps occurred in the past.
Two years ago a boatman got one of his legs pinned between two express boats. In another case, a school teacher negotiating his way on an express boat fell into the water.
For years, Kapit folk have voiced their concern to the government department and agencies but it fell on deaf ears as the excuse given was that strong currents made the floating pontoon impossible to operate.
With today’s advanced technology, people no longer accept the excuse.
“All over Sarawak, wharves are equipped with pontoons. Don’t talk of faraway places like Kuching, Miri or Bintulu. Just look at Sibu or Kanowit. It is a matter of allocating a budget and the government will design and build,” said salesman Wong from Sibu who works for a beverage firm and comes to Kapit twice a month.
There are four main express wharves namely Kapit/Sibu Wharf and Kapit/Baleh/Belaga Wharf constructed more than three decades ago.
The oldest — the Kapit/Sibu Wharf in front of Kapit District Council — was built in the early 1960s. The older generation can still remember 1967 when Tun Razak, then deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, flew in by Nuri helicopter to officiate at the opening.
Recently, the government allocated RM1.5 million to provide a roof for the said wharf, but the pontoon was left out due to the limited budget.
Deputy chairman of Kapit Kwang Tung Association, Shia Shui Poh pointed out the need to construct pontoons for express boats at all wharves.
“The pontoon is an important facility at the express boat terminal in Sibu. We need to allow at least one boat to berth at the wharf at any one time. This means a pontoon to cater to incoming and outgoing express boats for the convenience of travellers,” Shia said.
Presently three or four boats can berth at the wharf. Walking along the narrow footway of the boat is dangerous particularly for the elderly, pregnant women, children and the sick carried on stretchers.
“With the Rajang River being the only mode of transport to Kapit, the government should be more sensitive to the needs of the people,” said chairman of Kapit Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Yong Hua Sying.
“The government under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak stressed the 1Malaysia concept. Look at what has happened to Kapit. Sarawak achieved independence 46 years ago but we are lagging far behind.
“No road or air connectivity and we only ask for small favour from the government, even then the response to the request is very slow,” he said.
Ferry passengers must cough out RM1.50 more
Published on: Thursday, September 03, 2009
Labuan: Ferry and boat passengers from Menumbok are crying foul over a new Sabah Port and Harbour department charge of RM1.50 termed as "Domestic Charge" per passenger.
The receipt issued for the charge cited two regulations - one was the Port and Harbour Enactment Act 2002 and the other, the Port and Harbour Government wharves Regulations 2008.
The charge imposed effective beginning of this month is only applicable to passenger departing from Menumbok while Labuan-Menumbok passengers need not pay because the terminals are under the Federal Marine department and not the Sabah Port and Harbour Department.
Ferry travel is popular among most people due to high cost of air fares and an average of a few hundred people use the route. The Port and Harbour Department is expected to collect a sizeable amount of revene from the new charge, especially this month in view of the Hari Raya festive season.
Independent candidate in the last general elections here, Lau Seng Kiat, said "it is an unfair charge considering that those using the ro-ro ferry were already paying a shipping fee of RM14 per vehicle."
He also noted that, the Port and Harbour department should first improve facilities at the Menumbok ferry terminal. "In fact there is hardly a terminal. There are inadequate shaded places and seats for passengers waiting for the arrival of the ferry."
He said the road leading towards the ferry terminal is lined with vehicles on both sides and narrow. If it rains passengers had to accept the condition without help.
Lau also said since the economy was still facing a downturn, the department should heed the Government's advice not to burden the public with the new charges as this would affect many villagers using the Menumbok terminal to come to Labuan.
Lau was also surprised why the Department did not make any announcement about the charge. "The slogan says 1 Malaysia, People First, Performance Now but it seems this is a case of department first."
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