Penang announces ex-gratia package for fishermen

THE Penang government today announced an ex-gratia package for 1,615 fishermen who will be affected by the proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project.


Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman said under the proposed Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) for the PSR project, the ex-gratia package would benefit licenced fishermen and members of nine fishing units.


The nine fishing units are from Permatang Tepi Laut, Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul (Tier 1) and Seri Jerjak, Batu Maung, Teluk Tempoyak, Pulau Betong and Kuala Sungai Burong (Tier 2).


He said for Tier 1, a tekong would be given RM20,000 plus a boat and an engine while a crew member would receive RM12,960. The boat measures 27 feet long with 60 or 70 horsepower.


For Tier 2, he said a tekong would be given RM13,200 and a crew member would get RM5,400 each.


An artist impression of the three islands in the Penang South Reclamation project.


“The amount offered is according to the location of the unit. The state government would like to emphasise here that this is an ex-gratia payment, not a compensation.


“The offer of boats and engines is to allow them to fish in more distant locations after the island reclamation.


“The state government views the offer of boats and engines as the most suitable and meet their needs,” Ahmad Zakiyuddin, who is also the Fishermen Task Force chairman, told a press conference at Komtar today.


For a start, he said the state government would advance RM500 from the ex-gratia payment to them through electronics fund transfer (EFT) after the fishermen have registered their information and details, beginning from Feb 8 (Monday).


The remaining amount, he said, would be paid in two instalments – 75% in March this year and the remaining 25% in January 2022.


Ahmad Zakiyuddin says the ex-gratia payment offered is based on the location of the fishing unit.


Local fishermen are requested to register with the Pusat Perkhimatan Setempat Nelayan (PPSN) Permatang Damar Laut and Gertak Sanggul.


Because of the current movement control order, only five fishermen at a time are allowed to be in the PPSN to comply with the standard operating procedure. It is open from 9am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm.


They are requested to call the PPSN hotline 1-800-88-6393 or PTMP 1-300-88-9700 for an appointment.


The PSR project is to reclaim three islands (Islands A, B and C) at the south-end of the Penang island, measuring a total of 4,500 acres in land size. Island A will be 2,300 acres in size, Island B will be 1,400 acres and Island C will be 800 acres.


The tri-islands reclamation project is to finance the state’s transport master plan which will see highways, rail lines and other modes of transport introduced.


Ahmad Zakiyuddin said work on Island A is expected to start in late March or early April and would be completed in 2027.


“We’ll do it in stages, reclaiming about 25 acres each month. While this is going on, fishermen can still go out to the sea to fish,” he explained.


He said the state government decided to engage with the fishing community over the ex-gratia issue through other networks after the Penang Fishermen’s Association (Pen Mutiara) was not ready to negotiate with the state government.


He said Pen Mutiara wanted to wait for the outcome of their appeal against the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report by the director general of Department of Environment. The appeal will be decided by the DOE Board of Appeal.


Farizan says the state government is confident of obtaining the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) from the Department of Environment for the PSR project by end of March.


Penang Infrastructure Corporation Sdn Bhd (PICSB) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, who was also present at the press conference, said work would only start after they have obtained the approval of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) from the DOE.


When the DOE approved the EIA report on June 25 last year, it imposed 72 conditions on the state’s project delivery partner SRS Consortium.


“We’re confident of obtaining the EMP by the end of March after submitting it in January this year and according to all the requirements needed,” Farizan said.


Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the PSR project would further benefit the fishermen as the SIMP proposed to construct four new fishing jetties.


He said the main jetty is a multi-purpose jetty in Permatang Tepi Laut and has the potential to be developed as a tourist attraction because it is located close to the proposed LRT station Permatang Damar Laut.


The other three fishing jetties are located in Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul.


He added that the fishing community and residents also could take advantage of the business opportunities that would be created during the reclamation process.


Furthermore, he said the state government would provide support to fishermen who are interested in venturing into aquaculture, passenger and tourist boat services and processing of seafood.


In addition to that, he said SIMP would offer apprentice scheme, job matching, and training courses and programmes for young fishermen, and tuition and scholarship schemes for fishermen’s children.


The state government, he said, would give priority to eligible fishermen for low-cost housing schemes.


Also present at the press conference were SRS construction director Adil Putra Ahmad and M. Maheswari, who is the Under Secretary for the State Economic Planning Division under the Penang State Secretariat.


Story by K.H. Ong

Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud