By Opalyn Mok
GEORGE TOWN, Dec 21 — The Penang state government has offered to take over Swettenham Pier, Tanjung City Marina and the ferry service from Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB).
Expressing his confidence that it could turn all three projects around, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was ready to take over the ferry service from PPSB which has said it was running losses of RM18 million annually from operating the service.
“The ferry service can be well run by engaging professionals with expertise as was done in the past,” said Lim in a statement today.
He was responding to PPSB managing director Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar’s request for a review of the ferry concession which was costing the company annual losses of RM18 million.
Ahmad had complained that PPSB had to bear the losses annually and that the ferry operations was not subsidised even though it could be considered public transport.
Yesterday, Ahmad had also lashed out at politicians for politicising issues pertaining to the port, Swettenham Pier and the marina and instead should sit down to resolve the problem.
He had also urged the federal government to hasten the project to deepen the channel from 11m to 14.5m so that bigger container ships could come to Penang Port.
Lim also pressed the federal government to fulfil its obligations and immediately start on the RM355 million project.
“Deepening of the channel is necessary to ensure sustainable revenue growth,” he said.
Lim pointed out that the port only recorded revenue of RM329 million last year with a slight increase this year which was low for a significant port like Penang.
The marina, which belongs to the PPC and is managed by PPSB, has been abandoned following damage to its pontoons due to storms over the last few years.
The PPC has blamed PPSB for poor maintenance of the marina and announced that it will take over its management from next year.
Lim had been vocal in asking the PPC and the Transport Ministry to do something about the RM43 million marina.