New Singapore-Desaru ferry service approved after safety requirements met: MPA

The application for the ferry service was submitted by the appointed ferry operator, Batamfast, on March 23. PHOTO: DESARU COAST MALAYSIA/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - There will be a new route from Singapore to Desaru Coast via a new ferry service that has been approved for operations.

The ferry will take a direct route between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal in Johor, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (June 21).

The journey is estimated to be 90 minutes long, according to BatamFast, the appointed ferry operator.

The application for the ferry service was submitted by BatamFast on March 23.

To assess the navigational safety of the new ferry route, MPA had asked BatamFast to conduct a navigational safety assessment, including an attestation by the certifying authorities that the ferries are fit for the proposed voyage.

BatamFast also had to provide an emergency response plan covering the route between Tanah Merah and Desaru ferry terminals.

After BatamFast had submitted the required details, MPA reviewed the submission and assessed that BatamFast had met the safety requirements for the proposed ferry service.

MPA informed BatamFast, the Johor Port Authority and the Malaysian Marine Department on Tuesday that it had approved BatamFast's application to operate the proposed ferry service.

When the new ferry service begins depends on BatamFast's final preparations to start operations, including obtaining the necessary approvals from other authorities.

Previously, travellers could reach Desaru by taking a 30-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal in Kota Tinggi in Johor, followed by a 30 to 45-minute drive to Desaru.

The ferry ride has been suspended since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Desaru, a seafront resort town on the east coast of Malaysia, is famous for its pristine beaches and resorts off the coast of South China Sea.

Mr Michael Chiam, 61, a senior tourism lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said the destination is a popular choice for families on short getaways, due to its proximity to Singapore. He anticipates more demand from Singaporeans in the long term as an alternative holiday destination.

The speed and ease of the ferry service, as compared to driving, would allow more Singaporeans to enjoy their holiday.

Mr Daryl Soh, 30, producer at local design and motion graphics studio, said he prefers ferry services over driving as travelling to Malaysia by car is often slower due to traffic jams.

The lower costs of taking the ferry will also be an added attraction to Singaporeans.

Mr Nge Chi-e, 19, a national serviceman, said that as someone who do not drive, getting to Desaru by public transport or taxi could be very troublesome, expensive and time-consuming.

He said: "Hopefully, the ferry ride will be more affordable and provide sufficient facilities for a comfortable ride."

Final-year university student Cedric Koh, 28, hopes to travel again to Desaru. He last went to Desaru by car when he was about eight years old.

He said: "I enjoyed the experience, but I would have preferred a faster mode of transportation, so this is good news for me."

Some tour operators such as Mr Iwan Yang, 39, who runs Batam Getaway, anticipate the possibility of developing new routes and destinations, provided that there is enough demand.

Mr Yang said: "It's a matter of when and how, due to the uncertainties of the pandemic and slow pickup of demand."

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