Thousands stranded at Labuan ferry terminal due to unexpected surge in holiday travel

LABUAN: Over a thousand travellers are stranded at the Labuan roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry terminal as the ferry services between Labuan and Menumbok struggled to meet the soaring demand during the “Balik Kampung” season.

More than 10,000 residents left for mainland Sabah and Sarawak during the exodus, which coincided with the Kaamatan Festival, Gawai Day celebration, and mid-term school break.

Labuan Point Enterprise, the ticketing management company overseeing the Labuan-Menumbok-Labuan Ro-Ro ferry service, announced on Thursday (May 30) that it had added two extra daily trips.

Robert Ling, the company's manager, said that due to the increased demand, the number of trips had increased from seven to up to eleven daily.

"Despite the additional trips, hundreds of vehicles remain on the waiting list each day,” he told Bernama on Thursday.

Datuk Chin Hon Vui, chairman of Labuan Mainland Link Sdn Bhd, the ferry operator, said the ferries could only operate until 8pm daily due to capacity limitations, crew availability, and safety reasons.

"We never anticipated this incredible surge in demand...the situation is unprecedented, even compared to Hari Raya and Chinese New Year celebrations.

"I believe it’s due to the extended holidays for the Kaamatan Festival, Gawai Day, and the school break," Chin said.

Labuan Marine Department director Alimudin Amirudin said that as the holiday season continues, authorities are urging travellers to plan their journeys accordingly and remain patient.

"Even today, the operator requested an additional trip for May 30 and 31, which we will approve in the interest of the travellers," he said. – Bernama

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