Only three months after taking over the management of the jetty from the Sabah Fisheries Marketing Authority (Safma), Sejahtera Bumimas Sdn Bhd has hiked the charges of several of its facilities in order to improve the local jetty.
But, according to the fishing boat operators, the firm never laid out any improvement plans.
Instead, they are being charged RM4 for a fish basket, monthly charges of RM300 to RM2,000 for boats and vessels, RM100 an hour to unload their catch, with the concessionaire being able to rake in RM96,000 in fish baskets in one month for the upkeep of the premises.
It is learnt the landing jetty never underwent any upgrades for many years, only a roof structure built by Safma several years ago, said a fishing boat crew, here.
"It has always been this way for as long as I can remember.
"The only thing that is new is the roof, but that too was built several years ago by Safma," he said.
On Wednesday, an argument broke out between the fishing boat operators and staff from the concessionaire, after the access gate out of the jetty to the market was locked to demand the boat operators pay up according to the basket charges.
A memorandum over the issue was handed over to the Chief Minister by the Kota Kinabalu Fishing Boat Owners Association the same day.
Fish catch unloading will also take hours to complete, where only two to three boats would be able to land their catch each time on the present small size of the jetty.
And each boat can take up several hours to unload, with the boat crews needing to separate their catches into the baskets before it can be weighed and passed to the retailers and purchasers.
It is learnt there more than a hundred boats are landing on the jetty each day, the busiest time being peak fishing season that lasts for six months each year.
About 60 per cent of the total day catch will go to the industry, while the rest will be distributed to about 100 stall operators near the market.
The jetty is always wet and dirty and a heavy pungent smell filled the air from the floor and the drain, which are clogged.
Workers are left to endure hours of work with a toilet which is only accessible inside the central market after 6am, while most of the busy landing processes happen between midnight until 5am.
According Universiti Malaysia Sabah's school of business and economics researcher-lecturer Dr James Alin, who frequents the city landing jetty, the non-improvement of these facility, defeats the Safma privatisation programme.
He said the recent hikes had no justification but only incurred additional cost to the fishing boat operators who are already burdened by present expenses.