GEORGE TOWN, January 11 – Speedboats plying the Penang Canal could cause a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state if left unchecked, the Penang Consumers Association (CAP ).
CAP President Mohideen Abdul Kader said a lack of physical distancing in closed air-conditioned vessels would be conducive to the spread of the disease.
“What is of great concern is that there are no social distancing measures in place for the entire travel process, from the speedboat to the organized shuttles to transport commuters to the station. road from Weld Quay, ”he said.
He believed that the implementation of the Penang speedboat, to temporarily replace the old ferries, had been carried out without considering many crucial factors that would negatively affect pedestrians.
He expressed shock at passengers rushing into speedboats and shuttles to Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT).
“Inside speedboats, commuters should sit next to each other in an enclosed, air-conditioned environment,” he said.
He said such an environment would only facilitate the spread of any airborne disease, including Covid-19, compared to “old” well-ventilated ferries.
“In fact, older ferries had social distancing measures, marked seats and floors to avoid close contact when seated and queuing, crucial measures that are not implemented for speedboats. “, did he declare.
The old ferries, with the exception of one for transporting bicycles and motorcycles, were discontinued from January 1.
Mohideen said there were also no physical distancing measures in place when speedboat passengers lined up to take the connecting shuttle which was arranged to take them to Weld bus station. Quay.
“The shuttle is often crowded with passengers, who have to wait inside for a while before moving because the bus is on a schedule,” he said.
He said the speedboats were not suitable for people with disabilities and could not accommodate larger people due to the small number of seats.
He said there were many obstacles along the way and the long distance to travel to the terminal boarding or exit point after disembarking from the speedboat.
“Although it has been reported that people in wheelchairs would be carried on the boats by officers of the Penang Port Commission (PPC), the two terminals – SPCT in George Town and Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim in Butterworth – do do not comply with the Malaysian Standard Code of Practice on Disability Access (MS) as required of all public transport stations, ”he said.
He pointed out that the Disabled Persons Act 2008 emphasized that persons with disabilities (PWD) should have the same rights of access and use of public facilities, equipment, services and buildings.
“In addition, people with disabilities are independent enough to move around, but having obstacles such as steep steps and ramps, forcing them to depend on the help of attendants is disparaging,” he said. declared.
He said only the SPCT has escalators, but commuters will still be drenched if it rains because of the unprotected walkway between the gate and the main building.
He said a canopy should be built between the door and the SPCT building.
“In addition, there is a fairly large distance between the entrance to the ferry terminal and the boarding point on the speedboat on either side of the Penang Canal,” he said.
He said the passengers, who are carrying luggage, will experience a nightmare as they will have to climb steps, steep ramps, narrow gangways and have to step over the bulwark to the bridge.
He asked why PPC had not considered continuing with the old ferries until the new water buses arrived.
“It is unfortunate that the ferry issue was hastily addressed without giving too much thought to the impacts on ferry users, especially their safety in the current worsening Covid-19 situation,” he said. declared.