BALIK PULAU: A 60-year-old wooden jetty in Teluk Bahang has collapsed due to strong waves over the weekend, leaving the only entry to Pantai Kerachut and Centre for Marine and Coastal studies (Cemas) now inaccessible by sea.

The jetty, the only gateway for commuters and tourists to go to the popular Pantai Kerachut and Muka Head, was badly damaged when strong waves battered the pillars since Friday.

“Fishermen going out to sea saw the destruction of the jetty and alerted us,” said boat operator Zakri Mat Zain, 51.

Cemas director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan and her team now have to trek along the hiking trails for about 30 minutes to get to their workplace.

“Boats can only come ashore in the afternoon when there is a high tide.

“For now, both commuters and tourists who come in the morning will have to hike to get to the other side,” she said.

The high waves, she said, could be a tail-end effect of typhoon Kompasu that hit Hong Kong.

“This is a nostalgic jetty and Universiti Sains Malaysia had chipped in earlier for the maintenance work as Cemas staff commuted to work daily.

“I will get in touch with USM to see how it could be rebuilt. Earlier, we’ve spent around RM12,000 for repairs, partly funded by the local community,” she said, adding that the repair cost could now be higher.

Balik Pulau MP Datuk Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said work on a RM5mil new jetty for Teluk Bahang was approved when he was the Tourism, Culture and Arts Ministry (Motac) deputy minister.

“In fact, piling was carried out for the pillars but there was no follow-up after the Pakatan Harapan government collapsed.”

State Motac director Jonathan Freedie Bagang said work on the new jetty would begin in the first quarter of next year.

“Work was delayed due to requirement of Environmental Impact Assessment Report but a waiver was given later.

“We understand the need for a new jetty as it is an important entry point for tourists going to the Penang National Park,” added Jonathan.