GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Port Commission (PPC) handed over the five iconic Penang ferries to three eligible private companies to be converted into a floating museum, two floating restaurants and two tourist ferries.
PPC chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the five ferries - Talang-Talang, Pulau Payar, Pulau Undan, Pulau Kapas and Pulau Pinang - were handed over to the companies in an online ceremony on Thursday (July 1).
“PPC started a tender for the five ferries via a request for proposal (RFP) from Jan 29 to March 19 this year.
“Among the five ferries, only Talang-Talang and Pukau Undan are able to sail. The other three cannot be repaired and have since ceased operations by the end of 2019.
“Anyhow, PPC will ensure that these ferries will reappear in Penang waters for the locals and tourists.
“I believe these iconic ferries can be popular tourist spots to stimulate the state’s economy,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Tan said the three companies receiving the ferries were selected after many interview sessions with different companies.
“The three companies were approved during a meeting in mid-June to modify and manage the ferries for 15 years.
“Both PPC and the companies will sign a ferry lease contract of 10 years with an option for a five-year extension.
“Each company taking over the ferry will need to hand over a collateral of RM200,000 for each ferry to PPC.”
Tan said for the Pulau Pinang ferry, it will be refurbished into a floating museum at Tanjung City Marina.
“This ferry museum will feature photo exhibits, visuals, souvenir shops, a cafe and photography spots. The managing company will ensure that the ferry brings nostalgia to Penangites with its history and to all the museum visitors in future.”
He said two ferries - the Pulau Kapas and Pulau Payar ferries - are set to be turned into floating restaurants.
“Both ferries will be placed near Pulau Jerejak. The managing company is knowledgeable in terms of maritime. They have their own fish farms near Pulau Jerejak and manage a few seafood restaurants.
“This would allow tourists to visit the fish farms and enjoy seafood on board the floating restaurants, which will face the Penang Strait.
“Onboard both ferries, visitors can enjoy the view of Pulau Jerejak and the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.”
Tan said for the two tourist ferries - Pulau Undan and Pulau Talang-Talang - both ferries which can still sail will anchor at Swettenham Pier and only carry passengers without vehicles.
He said both ferries will feature a restaurant, conference room, restaurants for events and weddings, stores selling local products, souvenir stores and more.
“The ferries will be managed by a company with some 40 years of experience in handling and maintaining ships and ferries.
“This will allow the company to ensure the ferry services can be continuously maintained.
“As both ferries are old and are unable to sail for long, we believe the company has the needed experience to fix and schedule the operation hours.
“Both ferries will be reviewed by the Marine Department of Malaysia (JLM) before they are able to sail.”