The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is appalled by the latest consignment of the last of the four ferries in service to the workshop for “technical reasons”, stranding thousands of commuters who depended on the ferry service. It was only end July when five of the ferries were out of order and commuters had to wait for about an hour for the ferry.
Commuters had to be shuttled from Penang Sentral in Butterworth to the Weld Quay ferry terminal by free transit buses. Bus shuttle is not a solution to the deep-rooted issues of proper maintenance of the vessels and providing proper training of the staff which is lacking.
Providing an efficient transport system should not be perceived as a cash cow but a heavy responsibility to the people at large, many of whom are workers and students, and not a favour to the public. The ferry operator should bear in mind that thousands of daily commuters have no option as they depended entirely on the ferry to cross the Penang Channel.
Failing to provide an efficient service is a breach of trust placed on the ferry operators. We urge the government to get to the bottom of the whole issue of gross incompetence and irresponsibility by setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI).
Meanwhile, we urge the government to place the operations of the Penang ferry services under the Penang Port Commission as it was before 2017. As of 2019, the ferries transported 1.54 million pedestrians, besides 0.25 million vehicles of various kinds. This demonstrates how important the ferry service is as an option to the bridges.
We wish to reiterate our call for a RCI into the sad state of affairs concerning the Penang ferry services and also to provide training for personnel involved in the ferry operation and maintenance. Proactive maintenance should be adopted by the ferry operator.
Press Statement, 24 August 2020