Tuesday June 26, 2012
From coast to coast
By CHRISTINA CHIN and JOSEPHINE JALLEH
QUAD bikes have been banned in Penang island since 2010.
Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) Recreation, Tourism and International Affairs Department director Mohamed Akbar Mustapha said the ban on quad bikes was announced in November that year after the results of an online poll by the council conducted from Sept 26 to Oct 31 two years ago.
“Since then, quad bikes have been banned in all coastal areas on the island including Teluk Bahang.”
He was commenting on the incident where a female Arabian tourist, 26, sustained a deep gash on her nose when she lost control of the machine which she was riding with her husband on Saturday.
This was the third mishap involving beach sports activities reported in Penang since June 18.
Mohamed Akhbar said a discussion between the authorities and operators on safety and enforcement would be held today.
In a press conference after the full council meeting yesterday, council president Patahiyah Ismail said Monkey Beach in Teluk Bahang was not under the council’s purview but that it would continue monitoring the watersports operators in Batu Ferringhi.
Penang Tourist Centre (PTC) chairman Datuk Syed Mohd Aidid Syed Murtaza called for all parties to come together to find a solution.
“Perhaps we can have a zone for quad bikes. There must be a balance between tourists’ safety and allowing the quad bike operators to earn a living - we must be fair.
“The PTC is willing to participate in discussions involving industry players, authorities and operators to see if we can work out an arrangement that is acceptable to all parties,” he said.
Penang National Park superintendent Saat Yaakob said water scooters, banana boats, paragliding, parasailing, all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and buggies are not allowed in the waters 0,5 nautical miles from the national park.
“We will conduct enforcement operations and take legal action against operators who flout the law - we will be firm,
“All operators who ignore the ruling will be held responsible for any accidents that occur here,” he said.
A tourism industry player who did not want to be named, said contrary to what some operators are claiming, tourists do not really want to spend their holiday here playing water sports or quad bikes.
“They are here for the sun, fun and friendly people but because some operators are pushy and market their products as if these were ‘must-do activities’ in Penang, the tourists agree.”
He called on the relevant authorities to ensure strict enforcement especially in the Teluk Bahang National Park.
“When the authorities started clamping down on quad bikes in Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah, the operators who had invested so much money in the vehicles had no choice but to find another area to run their business illegally.
“The operators store their bikes on Monkey Beach and would ferry tourists from Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah there.
“How do they dispose of the dirty oil? Where do they hide the bikes? The authorities must check,” he said.