Prasarana allocates RM90 mil to upgrade Penang ferry services

The ferry service has been losing RM700 per trip since the Penang Bridge was opened in 1985. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Government-owned Prasarana Malaysia Bhd will allocate RM90 million to upgrade the Penang ferry service terminal facilities and buy new ferries under the Penang Ferry Services Development Plan, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the plan to improve the services was laid out following the acquisition of the Penang ferry service from its operator.

“Of the total allocation, RM21 million set aside for the 2018-2019 period will be used to purchase new passenger ferries.

“This will increase the number of vehicular ferries from six at the moment,” he said when winding up debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address.

Prasarana’s subsidiary, Rapid Ferry Sdn Bhd, took over the Penang ferry operations from Penang Port Commission on May 1.

The ferry service has been losing RM700 per trip since Penang Bridge was opened in 1985.

In addition, RM13.7 million has also been allocated to repair and refurbish the six existing ferries for a period of three years from 2018.

To a question from Ngeh Koo Ham (PH-Beruas), Loke said the government had no plans to turn both the Lumut Maritime Terminal and the Iron Ore Jetty for Vale in Lumut into container ports.

“There is no need to develop a new port, but a study has concluded that the government needs to optimise the existing ports and develop port facilities for certain industrial purposes.”

The Lumut Maritime Terminal in Kampung Acheh and Port Vale in Teluk Rubiah are private entities managed by companies and regulated by the Marine Department.

“Both terminals handle and operate industrial cargo,” he said, adding that the government had no plans to build a railway line connecting Lumut with both ports.