KUALA LUMPUR: The iconic Penang ferry service will continue to operate, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (pic) has declared.
“The government will impose a condition on Penang Port to carry on the iconic and heritage ferry service," he said when wrapping up replies on debates on the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Corona Disease (Covid-19) (Amendment) Bill 2020 in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Dec 17).
Tengku Zafrul said this condition would be imposed in relation to RM15mil out of the RM30mil approved for Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to take over the ferry service.
"I can confirm that the allocation will be made in two payments.
"The first payment of RM15mil will be made in 2021 and has been included in the Supply Bill 2021," he said.
There had been calls from several quarters for the historic and iconic ferry service to continue.
On Tuesday (Dec 14), Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the old ferries will be stopped entirely by 2022 and replaced by water buses and vehicle transporters.
PPSB will take over the ferry service from Prasarana Malaysia Bhd this coming Jan 1 and will operate only fast passenger ferries between the Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth and Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda.
One of the existing ferries will be used to transport bicycles and motorcycles.
Early this year, serious concerns were raised as the current fleet of ferries ran into technical problems resulting in repeated service disruptions.
The first cross-strait ferry service started 1894, making it the oldest ferry service in the country.
The existing fleet of ferries was delivered in May 1957 and repairs are difficult owing to the lack of spare parts.
About 1.3 million passengers and 240,000 four-wheel vehicles use the ferry service annually.
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