Labuan ferry delays add to holiday-goers’ dismay

LABUAN: Travellers leaving the island here have been putting up with hour-long queues at the Labuan roll on-roll off (ro-ro) ferry terminal since Friday, and they have been warned that the congestion could spill into this coming weekend.

Travellers blamed the congestion on the “mixed” queues of Sabahan and Peninsular travellers at the Immigration counter and lack of resources, although the exodus had been anticipated.

Labuan ferry operator Labuan Mainland Link Sdn Bhd apologised to travellers facing long waits, as travel picked up pace during the school holidays and the Kaamatan festival, observed in Sabah and Federal Territory of Labuan on May 30 and 31.

Immigration checks are conducted both at the exit points of Labuan and Menumbok ferry terminals.

Labuan ferry terminal ticketing management company Labuan Point Enterprise Sdn Bhd confirmed that more than 10,000 tickets for vehicles and passengers were sold out two weeks ahead of the combined school break (from May 26 to June 3) and Kaamatan festival.

Labuan police chief Supt Ahmad Jawila warned of a bumper-to-bumper crawl on the roads, while the surging demand at Labuan Airport is also expected to add to holiday-goers’ headaches.

Chaotic scenes around the Labuan ferry terminal started on Friday, coinciding with the start of the long break.

Labuan Mainland Link operates four ro-ro ferries, the largest being Putrajaya 1, which can accommodate up to 85 vehicles and 500 passengers at one time, Goodwill Star (85 vehicles and 420 passengers), while Kimanis 1 and Joy Star can each hold 55 vehicles and 220 passengers.

Robert Ling, the manager of Labuan Point Enterprise, the ticketing management company for the four ferries, said tickets for the Labuan-Menumbok-Labuan route between May 26 and June 3 were sold out two weeks in advance.

He said there would be six to nine ferry trips daily from 7.30am to 8pm during that period, and he foresees the problems stretching into the weekend.

He reminded travellers to turn up at least two hours prior to departure for border control security checks, Bernama reported.

One passenger, who had been due to sail on Sunday, decided at the last minute to spend more than RM1,000 on alternative travel arrangements by flying from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu to dodge the terminal queues.

Terence Kensen, 45, an offshore finance firm manager, was worried about being stuck for hours with his 75-year-old mother at the ferry terminal, and decided to fly to Kota Kinabalu to celebrate Kaamatan with his family in Penampang, Sabah.

Travellers were reminded earlier in the week that Labuan roads and Menumbok to Kota Kinabalu were getting busier amid the start of the holiday getaway.

They need to be prepared for the journeys to take longer than normal.

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