The car-carrying Penang ferry is one of the iconic Penang landmark and it had been in service for around 126 years now. Yesterday (5 June), a heritage activist, Khoo Salma Nasution of Penang Heritage Trust found an old Penang ferry left half-submerged at a river in Butterworth.
Salma told FMT that she find this heartbreaking as it is the country’s most cherished public transport icon to date. She said that some action should be taken before more damage is being done.
Last year, the authorities had decided to move away from transporting cars to provide better service to pedestrians, where the decision includes to retire the Pulau Penang ferry to make way for the faster water buses.
During the interview, Salma said “The sinking would not have happened overnight. The barge would have sunk little by little over the days. It only goes to show that no one was watching.”
She even urged the authorities to disclose the location of the last surviving 7 ferries that had gone, including the details of where they have gone, how much they were sold for and to whom.
Previously, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman, Daniel Gooi said the state had suggested that one of the old ferries to be kept in service because of the vessels’ iconic status, however, the proposal had fallen on deaf ears.
Responding to the matter, Penang Port Commission (PPC) said that the submerged ferry was found with several holes which caused water to enter the lower deck and engine room.
PPC Chairman, Tan Teik Cheng said that they had contracted a contractor to assist in pumping out the water and repair the holes to allow the ferry to refloat. He explained that the ferry was old and inoperable, hence, it is no longer be used to carry passengers and cars.
Meanwhile, they plan to convert the ferry into a museum and they are waiting for bids from interested parties to operate the museum.
Read the statement from PPC Chairman here: