The Malacca state government’s plan to introduce water taxis to reduce traffic jams in the city ought to be lauded.
It was just over a year ago that Chief Minister Idris Haron launched a smartphone application known as Destinasi Melaka, developed by Telekom Malaysia and the Malacca Tourism Promotion Division.
The phone app is accessible from anywhere around the globe, providing interesting and relevant information about Malacca in an organised manner, allowing visitors to make bookings in advance and upon arrival, use it as navigation without the need for foldable maps, and sharing their Malacca experience with just a few clicks of the button.
Many other destinations are still printing costly brochures which are left to gather dust. The few that were picked up were swiftly discarded as it is much easier to share pictures and videos using smartphones.
Malacca is so popular with tourists that it is jam-packed on weekends but visitors are not deterred, as the delights it has to offer would be worth the trouble. But the state government is not resting on its laurels and is making use of the Malacca River, which flows through the middle of the city, for public transport.
It plans to introduce water taxis in the middle of this year upon completion of the RM130 million rehabilitation and beautification of Malacca River project. These passenger boats will ply between the CIQ complex at the estuary to Melaka Sentral bus terminal, with five new jetties in between.
There is no doubt cruising along the Malacca River will be a great experience but at high-speed it would be a bad idea. Even worse would be introducing amphibious coaches, which Terengganu had ordered from Malta in 2014.
These buses that can sail on water are priced at 600,000 euros or about RM2.8 million each, have not been delivered since 2015 because of technical issues, although 50 percent was paid up front.
While state governments should built infrastructure such as jetties, they should not get involved with water transport.
It is best to appoint a concessionaire to run such services in a sustainable manner without bleeding the coffers of the state. Safety should be paramount and there is no need to decorate the boats with a Malacca roof.
It was nothing more than a ‘syiok sendiri’ exercise when the Terengganu state government opted for a fancy roof for buses operated by them, as they apparently looked hideous to foreign tourists.
As such, water taxis to be introduced in Malacca should be the safest available, allowing thousands of commuters and tourists to use them without any incident, with pilots, ushers and security personnel trained to handle any emergencies.