A lot of talk in the media about the RM3.7bn tunnel or a RM1.8bn third Penang bridge. But not much talk about handing over the Penang ferries to the state government.
This Bernama report from theSun:
Penang govt postpones ferry services takeover
23 April 2016
GEORGE TOWN: The DAP-led Penang government has decided to postpone its proposed takeover of ferry services in the state to another date yet to be decided, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the decision was made at the State Executive Council (Exco) Meeting on March 30 and confirmed on April 6.
The state government, he said, was concerned over management and supervision by the Penang Port Commission (SPPP) which would affect tens of millions of ringgit in investments in ferry services if it was not managed professionally and competently.
“In determining the direction of the proposed ferry services takeover, the Exco has agreed that this matter be discussed in greater detail first between Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and myself, he said in a statement here today.
“Through this discussion we hope to clarify on several key points relating to SPPP’s role and regulatory powers, he said, adding that it was important that SPPP be managed professionally according to international standards. — Bernama
So has this discussion with Liow Tiong Lai been held? What is the outcome? What is holding it back? Why are we even talking about a third bridge or a tunnel when the second Penang bridge looks like a ghost bridge a lot of the time and only one to four ferries are running instead of a dozen or more?
We already have three links to the mainland, two of which are operating well below capacity, at minimal capacity, really. What is the urgency for a fourth link? Why are we even discussing it now?
The federal government would rather build a bridge it can control while the state government appears more interested in a tunnel. Meanwhile, the ferry service continues to languish in neglect.
After all, the investment needed to improve the ferry service is too cheap(!) compared to other multibillion ringgit infrastructure like bridges and tunnels. So no one is keen to pursue the ferry service.
Even privatised Penang Port Sdn Bhd probably feels that it can’t make much profit; so the service is left to rot for all it cares. Never mind the long-suffering ferry commuters. That’s the logic of privatisaton.