Tuesday, March 19

Ferry operator seeks temporary special permit



KOTA KINABALU: The decision whether to grant permit for the operation of Kudat-Palawan Roll-On-Roll-Off ferry service lies with the Ministry of Transport.

The much-awaited ferry service will only become reality if the federal government through Minister of Transport Anthony Loke Siew Food decides to give a special international licence to the Philippine-based ferry operator to ply the Kudat-Palawan route.

It is learnt that a meeting between the Transport Minister and local major players is likely to take place at the end of this month in Kuala Lumpur.

The source said among the attendees during the meeting would be BIMP-EAGA Kudat Business Council (BEBC) vice-chairman Datuk James Ibrahim who is tipped to be the person designated by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal to look after the ferry operations in Sabah.

During the forthcoming meeting, the source said James would again request the Transport Ministry to seriously consider granting a special international class licence to Sabah in order for the ferry operator to proceed with the ferry service.

Furthermore, the source said the ferry operator was only requesting a year or two special consideration in order for them to jump start the operation.

“The granting of the special international class licence will help temporarily reduce operational cost on the part of the ferry operator considering the short distance of the voyage (Kudat-Bululuyan ports),” the source said, adding that the operation of the ferry service would tremendously improve the economic scenario in Kudat in particulr and Sabah in general.

On the Palawan side, it is learnt that its Provincial Governor Jose C. Alvarez has repeatedly assured that they are more than ready to start using the new sea link once Malaysia issues the ‘green light’.

“Palawan is ready to use the Kudat-Palawan sea connectivity for huge transhipment of agricultural products (bananas and pineapple) to other foreign countries,” Alvarez said recently.

Meanwhile, James said the people of Kudat and other local traders were eager to see the ferry service operation because of the expected domino effects that it would bring to the district and the people in the area.

He said the ferry operation is a win-win situation for both Malaysians and Filipinos and it is for this reason that even  Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had expressed the ‘thumbs-up’ to the noble initiative.

“I sincerely hope that the outcome of the coming meeting with the Transport Ministry will be favourable to all…” he said when contacted.