LANGKAWI – The increase in fares for ferries servicing Langkawi came as a shocking news to usher the new year in the island as users would now have to fork out an additional RM3 to use the service effective today.
The increase came after the ferry operators imposed a management charge which they claimed to be similar to the airlines service charge as well as to encourage online booking of ferry seats.
With this increase, passengers travelling between Langkawi and Kuala Kedah would have to pay RM26 instead of RM23 before while fare for the Kuala Perlis – Langkawi is now RM21 from RM18.
Apart from the two routes, passenger ferries here were also travelling to Penang as well Satun and Koh Lipe in Southern Thailand.
The extra charge, however, would not be applied to passengers holding mycard with Langkawi addresses.
Kuah State Assemblyman, Nor Saidi Nanyan said the Marine Department here had informed him that the ferry operators did submit their intention to impose the extra charge but the department had yet to make any decision on the matter.
He said that it was ridiculous for the operators to claim that the management charge that they imposed was similar to the service charge of airline companies particularly when their level of onboard services still needed a lot of improvements.
“It is just annoying to wake up on a new year’s day only to be surprised by the news that the ferry fare had increased (due to the introduction of the management charge),” he said, adding that he would press for this charge to cease immediately.
He also questioned the operators’ approach to impose the charge without advance notice when they were able to prepare their ticketing machines to print the new fare.
“This is just like taking advantage and would only be smearing the image of the government, who had no hand at all for this increase,” he added.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Kedah/Perlis chapter vice-chairman, Razmi Rahmat said the ferry extra charge would have a domino effect towards the tourism development in the island.
He said since 2017, tourists to the island had been imposed with promotional charge of RM3 by the local authority as well as tourism tax of RM10 by the Federal Government.
“Now the ferry operators came with this extra charge when the hotels in Langkawi are not raising their rates at all,” he said.
UMNO Langkawi Youth Chief, Ahmad Marzukhi Shariat said more ferry operators should be allowed to operate as a way to curb any consortium of companies to dictate the fare and other charges at their whims and fancies.
“We called on the government to provide some kind of encouragement for new players to be involved in the ferry services and as for the current operators, we strongly request them to toe the line and think about the overall wellbeing of people in Langkawi,” he added. – BERNAMA