GEORGE TOWN: The famed Batu Ferringhi tourism belt is looking so “worn out” that tourism industry players are planning to form an action group to put pressure on government agencies to give it better care.
The tourist destination has suffered from bad reviews on TripAdvisor in recent years.
It is now struggling along with a 3.5-star rating, with 34% of reviewers giving it an average score, 4% calling it terrible and only 18% feeling that it is excellent.
A check along Jalan Batu Ferringhi from Golden Sands Resort to Parkroyal Penang Resort showed many signs of neglect.
The 4km stretch of international resorts is riddled with broken road signs, missing manhole and drain covers as well as damaged walkway railings.
A taxi driver waiting for passengers outside Parkroyal Penang Resort claimed that Batu Ferringhi night market traders sawed off the walkway railings to make space for their display tables.
It is believed that several sections of the railings were also bent out of shape by these traders, creating a scene of disarray along the street.
Alarmingly, there are shops located beside SJK(C) Pai Chai opposite Long Beach Cafe that look like they have been “bombed”.
For about three weeks, the rubble and bits of broken furniture were visible from the road where the night market operates every evening.
The mess, which was seen in early November, was cleared up only last week.
Travel agency operator Mohd Salman Mustafa claimed that the shops were illegally built on government land and demolished more than two weeks ago.
“There was a big argument between the shop operators and the demolition team but the demolition went ahead,” he said, adding that he did not know what would be put up.
Land clearing work has begun but hoardings only partially shielded the earthworks.
There are no signboards to indicate the project, except that three camels were spotted inside the cleared area, tethered to trees.
Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari has been wrangling with the problem after the general election.
He said there were jurisdictional issues because Penang Island City Council did not have authority over much of the road infrastructure, which came under the Public Works Department.
“The jurisdiction is mixed and the government agencies sometimes cannot coordinate effectively.
“Part of my election manifesto is to rejuvenate Batu Ferringhi.
“We are working on a plan to not only beautify but also improve mobility and accessibility,” he said.
Zairil, who is state Works Committee chairman, said he was studying the traffic situation and expected to find a solution to the frequent jams by the middle of next year.
“There will be some road upgrading in the first half of next year,” he said.
He also conceded that the night market hawkers, who blocked walkways and sometimes charged high prices, were a problem.
“It won’t be easy to resolve but we are in the midst of enforcement action,” he added.