Sunday, 20th April, 2003


  Labuan - KK ferry fare up RM3
  Daily Express
  LABUAN:  Hundreds of passengers on the Labuan-Kota Kinabalu ferry route were caught unawares when the operators of the service slapped a near 10 percent hike in the ferry fare.

The fare went up by RM3. The previous fare for the route was RM28 for the ordinary class but now it is RM31, while the fare for the first class is now RM36 instead of RM33.

" We have no choice but to increase the fare because of higher operational costs such as fuel and labour," said Wong Kii Hii, who operates one of the ferries.

"Passenger volume has also not been very good and if we maintain the same fare, it would be difficult for us to operate the service."

He added that since 1988 the ferry fare had been the same without any increase and "after 15 years, we increased the fare only by a minimal amount."

Wong also said that prior to the increase,  the operators had requested for fuel subsidy from the authorities "but we were not given the subsidy and so we were left with no choice but to increase.

Stressing that the fare increase was justified and that everybody should accept it, he said it would be unfair to cry foul over the hike "as when the terminal fee at Kota Kinabalu was imposed at RM3 per passenger in 2002, nobody seemed very concerned."

He added that the Labuan-Limbang ferry fare had also been increased but not the Labuan-Brunei fare "because operators can cover costs and maintain the present price for this sector.

Chairman of the Labuan Entertainment Operators' Association (LEOA), Benard Wong, said the hike in the ferry fare would make travelling costlier and affect domestic tourism.

"The Labuan-Kota Kinabalu ferry service is important in bringing to Labuan more visitors and this helps the hotel, entertainment and other industries," he said.

He was also surprised that only the ferry operators had hiked the fare while providers of other transportation services did not though they pay the same fuel costs.

Benard said as far as he knew, even the express bus services from Menumbok to Kota Kinabalu maintained the same fare "and even airlines, some of them are lowering fares."

He said though the increase was by a mere RM3, paying this new fare and the RM3 terminal fare at Kota Kinabalu would make a one way fare from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan RM34, which is almost half the cost of airfare.

"And in the case of senior citizens, whether travelling by air to Kota Kinabalu or by ferry would mean paying the same," Benard said.

He hoped the precedence set by the ferry operators would not be followed by others.

Presently, about three ferries leave Labuan daily for Kota Kinabalu and each ferry has a passenger capacity of more than 100.

The Labuan-Kota Kinabalu ferry service commenced about 15 years ago.