PENANG, 8 June 2009: The Penang state government is prepared to take over the mainland-island ferry service from Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) as the PPSB has been admittedly unable to shoulder the mounting losses over the last 10 years.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today the state government was prepared to take over the service, which suffered a loss of RM21 million last year, and proposed to place it under the management of the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP).
He said the state government was prepared to face the risks and challenges of operating the service, which begun in 1894, as it wanted to retain it as a tourist attraction and an icon of Penang.
The matter of getting the PPSB to allow the MPPP to take over the ferry service would be discussed soon by the MPPP and the Penang Port Commission (PPC), he told reporters after Tan Cheng Chui was sworn in as the new president of the MPPP here.
Tan, who had been acting in that post, takes over from Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman, who has been appointed the state secretary.
Lim said the takeover of the ferry service by the MPPP would have to be done without taking on the current liabilities.
On 4 June, the PPSB expressed its intention to hand over the ferry service to the federal government because it could not shoulder the mounting losses over the last 10 years.
PPC chairman Tan Cheng Liang reportedly said the PPSB, through the PPC, wrote to the government recently on the matter.
Lim also said the state government was considering a proposal to declare 7 July 2010 a public holiday to mark the recognition of Georgetown as a world heritage site by Unesco.
“We will celebrate the first anniversary of the recognition on 7 July this year, and we are considering declaring a public holiday on that date next year,” he said. — Bernama