A new ferry, to be called the “Taipeng”, is to replace the Taihwa and serve the route between Kaohsiung and Penghu County from August 2023, as the Maritime and Port Bureau and state-owned Taiwan Navigation Co yesterday signed a contract to build and operate the new ship.
The contract was signed by bureau Director-General Yeh Hsieh-lung (葉協隆) and Taiwan Navigation chairman Liu Wen-ching (劉文慶) at a ceremony attended by Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材).
The new ship, to be built by Japanese shipyard Naikai Zosen, would have more space for vehicles and cargo, Yeh said, adding that it would help boost the growth of Penghu’s tourism industry.
The new ship would have berths for four tour buses and 84 vehicles, while the Taihwa can carry a maximum of 55 vehicles, Yeh said.
The new ferry would also have space for 10 refrigerated containers, which would be used to bring produce from Taiwan proper to the outlying island county, Yeh added.
The new ferry would allow for more convenient travel, despite reduced passenger capacity, Yeh said.
It would offer sleeping accommodation to 300 travelers, up from 200 on the old ship, while the overall passenger capacity would be 600, down from 1,150, he added.
The new ship would also have restaurants, cafes and other leisure facilities, he said, adding that the bureau would implement a new business model to operate the ferry sustainably.
“In the past, the government tasked shipyards with building a ferry and later recruited contractors to operate them. The new ship was commissioned by Taiwan Navigation based on the bureau’s requirements and planned operations,” Yeh said.
The contract covers 20 years and includes exclusive operating rights, but also holds the contractor responsible for profitably running the service, he said.
It includes 300 guaranteed trips between Kaohsiung and Penghu annually, but also allows the contractor to offer additional charter services, Yeh said.
“The new business model will reduce government expenses and facilitate the development of tourism,” he added.
The bureau is in talks with a firm over the new vessel’s interior and exterior design, Yeh said.
Liu said that Naikai Zosen was tasked with building the new ship because it has extensive experience in building roll-on/roll-off ferries.
The new ferry is to start operating in August 2023, Wang said, adding that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) had promised Penghu residents that it would start then.
Aside from commissioning the new ship, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would subsidize the purchase of five ferries to operate routes within Penghu, and fund a pier expansion and a new passenger terminal at Magong Port, Wang said, adding that 75,000-tonne cruise ships would be able to anchor there once the expansion is completed.
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