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Co-op to deliver long-term benefits to fishermen

Co-op to deliver long-term benefits to fishermen

Published by The Star • 08/06/2022

The Penang government is working on providing the first 20 boats to boat owners who have signed up for the Social Impact Management Plan.

THE newly set up co-operative Koperasi Komuniti Pulau Pinang Selatan Berhad (KKPPSB) is being tasked with delivering key benefits of the Penang South Islands’ (PSI) Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) – to be rolled out in the second half of this year.


The co-operative is the main contractor in the temporary facilities project in Permatang Tepi Laut, which involves building a temporary jetty with storage facilities along Sungai Bayan Lepas.


The temporary facilities will replace the old sheds and platforms haphazardly built by the fishermen. The fishermen will be able to use the temporary facilities until the Permatang Tepi Laut multipurpose jetty is built after PSI’s Island A has taken shape.

Fadzly (in blue shirt) said KKPPSB must run business activities that can generate income so that it can function independently. With him is Ahmad Zakiyuddin (left), who said that KKPPSB has the state government’s support.

Jobs and business opportunitiesKKPPSB chairman Dr Muhammad Fadzly Zakaria said the co-operative would be overseeing the temporary jetty project, which would be awarded to subcontractors soon for construction work to begin next month.


“The project’s subcontractors and suppliers will be locals. They may even be our co-op members. We are now shortlisting the potential subcontractors for a limited tender process.


“By doing it this way, we can ensure the project directly gives jobs and business opportunities to south Penang island locals. We want locals to benefit from the project,” he said after KKPPSB’s first board meeting recently.


Apart from local fishermen, who make up the majority of KKPPSB members, the co-op’s membership is also open to residents and business owners, such as contractors, suppliers, and other providers of goods and services in south Penang island.


New boats and engines

KKPPSB is also hoping the state government will appoint it to manage the procurement and delivery of the first batch of 20 new boats and engines to fishermen in the PSI area, who are in dire need of new vessels.


“We understand that the state is aiming to deliver the first six boats in July this year, and we hope to be able to play a role to facilitate the handover,” Fadzly said.


KKPPSB was set up under the SIMP scheme, which offers benefits to south Penang island fishermen who are involved in the PSI project.


Among the SIMP benefits, which are to be rolled out in the near future are:

> New boats and engines for 315 boat owners from the Permatang Tepi Laut, Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul fishermen units

> Temporary fishermen’s facilities in Permatang Tepi Laut

> Job and business opportunities.


Better fish prices, higher incomeAnother business activity that directly benefits the fishermen is the co-op’s “Samudra initiative” which involves buying the fishermen’s daily haul for a better price and reselling them for a profit.

Soil investigation works are now underway at Sungai Bayan Lepas where the state government will build temporary jetties and storage facilities for Permatang Tepi Laut fishermen, in addition to the multipurpose jetty that will be built after PSI’s island A has taken shape.

Samudra aims to protect fishermen from being exploited by middlemen who offer lower than the market price and to ensure they gain a better income from their catch.Under the initiative, the fishermen can form groups and pick a middleman from among themselves to sell their fish to KKPPSB.


“The co-op will buy the fish at a better price. The middlemen chosen by the fishermen will earn salaries and a 10% commission from the sales.


“KKPPSB will sell the fish at market rate and 70% of the profits will go back to the fishermen annually as a bonus. The rest of the profits will be kept by the co-op to offer as dividends to our members,” Fadzly said.


He said the state government would channel RM350,000 to the co-op as capital to kickstart the initiative by the end of the year.


He added that there is still much to be done, such as identifying interested fishermen, selecting the middlemen, hiring a local consultant to design the cold room to store the fish, and sorting out the logistics and necessary licences.


Under the law, any party selling fish must first obtain a licence from the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM).


Fadzly said KKPPSB must engage in business activities that could benefit its members and generate income to operate independently in the long run.


“We need to be able to move forward and stand on our own feet like other co-operatives, without relying on the state government. We hope the community and fishermen can come together to make this a success,” he said.


The co-op is also planning to buy a passenger boat to provide water transportation services to the public and construction workers to support the upcoming PSI construction activities.


Upskilled fishermen

Fadzly said that the co-op could, in the future, also act as an agent for fishermen who have seafarer licences to ferry passengers around for sport fishing and sightseeing.


“So far, the SIMP programme has arranged for nine fishermen to take the seafarer course. They passed the test last month to earn the Certificate of Competency (COC) to be seafarers.


“They can now ferry passengers and work on pontoons to make extra income. More fishermen will have the opportunity to take the course as the PSI project progresses.


“When we have more seafarers, KKPPSB can serve as the agent to handle bookings for such boat outings,” he said.


New seafarers

One of the new seafarers Loo Tang Nee, 42, from Gertak Sanggul, said the Marine Department’s oral test, which was the last hurdle, was not too difficult.


“I now look forward to earning side income from providing water transportation services,” he said.


KKPPSB advisor Datuk Ir Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman, who is Penang deputy chief minister (I) and the state executive councillor in charge of co-operatives, said the co-operative’s involvement in implementing the SIMP should boost the local fishermen’s confidence in the Penang government’s commitment to look after their interests.


“KKPPSB aims to take care of the fishermen’s welfare and empower them to become better, not to compete with any association or other co-operatives.


“With the state government’s support, KKPPSB will be able to play its role well to deliver the SIMP benefits transparently according to regulations and bylaws that govern co-operatives,” he said.

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