Ex-Jelutong MP urging to revive Penang’s grand old ferry service

FORMER Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi Chuan Aun and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are calling for the iconic ferries to be brought back in order to relieve the horrendous traffic congestion on Penang island.

According to Ooi, DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng had promised to revive the iconic vehicular ferries if Pakatan Harapan (PH) came into power during the recently concluded general election.

“There have been daily pockets of traffic jams all over Penang for the past 15 years. DAP has witnessed it without doing anything concrete other than to pursue an ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan, which has yet to take off,” The Vibes reported Ooi as saying.

Ooi added: “The ferries can ease congestion at the bridge, but they should ferry vehicles too besides pedestrians, mopeds, or cyclists. Particularly, if the ferries can transport heavy vehicles, it would be better to expedite traffic flow out of the two bridges.”

Moreover, if the ferries make a comeback, the Weld Quay area will also need to be revamped to accommodate new traffic flow.

Meanwhile, former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor reminded the authorities that providing smooth traffic flow is the required duty and service of the government of the day.

“The authorities should not just be obsessed with the cost. It is about providing a service, and the ferries can help alleviate the congestion. If people cannot get to work on time, they would naturally blame the authorities. Something needs to be done now,” he added.

Furthermore, citizens of Butterworth who have to commute to work to the island are greatly affected by the traffic, which is worsened by visitors during school holidays.

Moving forward

While Fareed is fond of the idea of a water taxi service that only transports pedestrians, Penang Forum executive committee member Lim Mah Hui pointed out that the transport master plan needs to be reviewed by providing cheaper alternatives instead of resorting to land reclamation to underwrite the costs.

Simultaneously, the operator of the current ferries which only transport pedestrians and motorcyclists Penang Port Sdn Bhd is of the opinion that if the authorities can finance the cost, the revival of vehicular ferries can be considered.

“To revive Penang’s iconic ferries is steep in terms of the cost. We are looking at over RM1 mil to restart one ferry and to upgrade the supporting amenities. The port can consider the new roll-on and roll-off ferries, which currently operate out of Kuala Perlis and Langkawi,” Penang Port Sdn Bhd further added.

However, the state government should also show more initiative on reducing traffic congestion. – Dec 14, 2022


Main photo credit: Malaysiakini

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