FINANCE Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s recent decision to maintain the Penang ferry services proves that the previous Pakatan Harapan Government’s plans to retain the iconic service worked.
“Previously, we had imposed a condition to the Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to maintain the 120-year-old ferry services in exchange for RM30 mil.
“We welcome Tengku Zafrul’s decision to uphold the condition made to PPSB, which was made during our tenure in the Government,” said former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in a statement.
On Dec 15, Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng announced that the ferry services will be halted entirely by 2022 and replaced by water buses and vehicle transporters.
Tan also announced that only one ferry will continue to operate until July 2022, to transport bicycles and motorcycles while other passengers will need to take fast ferries from the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal.
However, Tengku Zafrul intervened on the matter, saying the Federal Government will ensure the ferry services remain operational for the time being.
“The RM30 mil allocated by the previous administration for PPSB to maintain the ferry services will be channelled in two instalments next year.
“The Government will ensure that PPSB will be required to continue its ferry service,” the Finance Minister reportedly told the Dewan Rakyat.
Training his guns against Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, Lim said the former had misled the public by accusing the latter of trying to end the ferry services in the past.
“Even former Transport Minister Anthony Loke had denied we made such plans. Can Wee prove that the previous administration tried to end the ferry services?” asked Lim.
However, Lim said that he was not opposed to the use of catamarans as long as the ferry services are maintained.
“We understand the cost and difficulty in finding a suitable replacement. That is why we insisted that a few ferries to be retained for operation.
“In other words, the catamarans will be operating parallel with the existing ferry services,” said the former Penang chief minister. – Dec 19, 2020