Following the July 1, 2003, announcement that the 248-passenger ferry Mabua Express has formally ceased the operation of their twice-daily service between Bali and Lombok, additional details surrounding the shutdown are beginning to emerge.
Goestamar Adibrata, General Manager of the Ferry Service, commenting in the July 9, 2003, edition of the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia confirmed that the ship, built in 1992, is for sale on the international ship market. According to Goestamar, "there are a number of business people who have expressed an interest in the ship, including a Cuban party seeking payment terms. A serious offer, now under negotiation, has come from an Iranian state-owned enterprise."
The Mabua Express managed to achieve passenger loads of 80% in 2000, but quickly saw loads decrease in the wake of the 9-11 attacks in New York in 2001, the Bali bombing of October 2002, and the SARS panic.
The severance terms of the 50 employees of the Company are now being negotiated with the employees concerned and the local Manpower Office, as required by law. Goestamar confirmed that efforts to sell the company and continue the ferry service with new owners have been unsuccessful, compelling the current owners to try to sell the vessel minus the Company.
Lombok to Suffer
The head of Bali Association of Marine Operators (GAHAWISRI), Yos K. Amerta, expressed his profound disappointment at the closure of the Mabua Express saying, "Lombok will suffer as foreign tourists will be forced to fly to Lombok using current air services with very limited carrying capacity."
Amerta admitted that regular car ferry services continues to operate from Padang Bai (Bali) to Lombok although the time required for such a journey could take up to 7 hours as compared to Mabua's 2.5 hour trip.
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