KUDAT: Sabah PKR Women Chief Rahimah Majid has urged the Federal government to also include Pulau Banggi in the subsidy for travellers’ sea transport cost.

She said, this is only fair and necessary towards easing the financial burden of the people of Pulau Banggi, a majority of who are the hardcore poor in the Bottom 40% (B40) category.

“Ferry is the main transport for the islanders to commute to Kudat town to acquire essential goods and services. Hence, a subsidized ferry service would mean a lot for them,” she said.

She urged this while commenting on the recent news report that the Federal Government continues to allocate the annual RM9 million subsidy for travellers’ sea transport cost from Labuan to the mainland of Sabah and Sarawak and vice versa this year, amid the island’s economic slowdown.

The allocation granted since 2014 is to subsidise 50 per cent of the ferry and speedboat passenger fares to ease the burden of Malaysian citizens commuting via sea transport from and to the island.

The subsidised routes are from Labuan-Menumbok-Labuan, Labuan-Kota Kinabalu-Labuan, Labuan-Sipitang-Labuan, Labuan-Limbang-Labuan and Labuan-Lawas-Labuan.

Rahimah who is also PKR Kudat division chief noted that currently it costs from RM21.60 (Economy Class) to RM24. 10 (1st Class) per person for a three-hours ferry ride from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan, while the Pulau Banggi residents have to pay from RM20 (Economy Class) to RM28 (First class) for an hour of ferry ride from Pulau Banggi to Kudat.

She expressed regret that the rights and welfare of Pulau Banggi residents had been neglected since the said subsidy scheme was implemented back in 2014.

“The present government must not ignore the plights and pressing needs of Pulau Banggi folks for basic amenities, ferry transport included, especially since they had voted for change in the last general election, with the hope of a better life and better future for their children.

“The present government must not repeat the mistakes of the Barisan Nasional government. It must always remember that the people are essentially the bosses and their welfare and interests must not be neglected in any ways,” she reminded.

She further stressed that, the present government should strive to distinguish itself from its predecessor by making greater effort to reach out to Malaysians who really deserved assistance, such as the underprivileged hardcore poor of Pulau Banggi.

She also hoped that the elected representatives for Pulau Banggi and Kudat could better perform their duties and responsibilities to champion the rights and wellbeing of their constituents.-pr/BNN

Sabah PKR Women Chief Rahimah Majid