Najib wrong about PIL 1 highway, says Penang CM

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says former prime minister Najib Razak is misleading the people on the PIL1 highway through inaccurate statements posted on his Facebook page. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 13, 2019.

THE cost to build the proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) highway is RM7.5 billion and not RM9 billion as stated by former prime minister Najib Razak, the Penang government clarified today.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state wanted to clear the “misconceptions and refute the erroneous statements” contained in articles based on Najib’s Facebook posts.

Last week, Najib attacked the 19.5km mega project on his Facebook page, saying that scrapping PIL1 would save the state RM9 billion – an amount more than enough to settle Felda’s RM8 billion debt, with RM1 billion to spare to give aid to the people and farmers.

PIL1 is part of the state’s ambitious multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which was introduced in recent years to solve the state’s worsening traffic woes.

In response today, Chow said Najib’s article was “spiced with many factual errors, which cannot be anything other than to confuse and misguide the public with the intention of swaying public support for the project”.

“The most glaring is that of the cost of PIL1, which is said to have escalated from RM7.5 billion to RM9 billion which has been cooked-up and distorted without stating any factual basis, with the intention to mislead and divert public’s attention.

“The assertion that PIL1 is the most expensive highway to be built in history is invalid and made with ill-intention,” he said in a lengthy statement.

Chow also said the cost for the highway, which will link Persiaran Gurney in the northern part of the island to Bayan Lepas in the south and feature tunnels through hills, was officially RM7.5 billion.

There was no cost escalation, he said, adding that comparing costs between projects without considering various factors and features in each project would only confuse the people.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (centre) during a forum on Penang Transport Master Plan on September 20, 2018. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 13, 2019.

Can’t compare PIL1 with other highways

Chow said the PIL1 project should not be compared to other highways as each highway is different in many ways.

The per kilometre cost of construction could not be worked out on simple arithmetic as each highway had its own unique features to suit local conditions, the chief minister said.

“Other considerations in calculating the cost are the unique engineering approach incorporated in this proposed highway due to site conditions, technical requirements and minimising social and environmental impact.

“For PIL1, 7.6km of it is constructed elevated at a height of up to 31m, and 10.1km of the highway are designed as tunnels. The remaining length will consist of embankments connecting the tunnels to the elevated structures.”

The highway is to be six-lane wide, and will also have a 250m cable stayed bridge with a 31m height.

“To date, no such alignment configuration with a similar magnitude is constructed in Malaysia,” Chow said.

The chief minister, who is also the exco in charge of land affairs, land development, transportation and communications, said that work packages for PIL1 will be awarded via fair and transparent open tender.

The project will also be funded through the Penang South Reclamation, another ambitious undertaking by the state to reclaim three islands off the southern coast of Penang island.

The islands will then be auctioned off to raise funds to pay for PIL1 and other components of the PTMP, apart from giving Penang additional land for future developments.

“All PTMP projects are implemented based on open tender, i.e. based on market rate at the time of implementation, and each bid is evaluated strictly based on predetermined criteria.

“Hence, the issue of cost escalation does not arise,” Chow said.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (centre) during a forum on Penang Transport Master Plan on September 20, 2018. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 13, 2019.

Support from silent majority

The chief minister also said there was support from the people for PIL1, which would have interchanges linked to the Second Penang Bridge and other important future infrastructure projects, namely the Gurney Expressway, the undersea tunnel, and the proposed North-South Expressway (NSE) bypass to form the Greater Penang network.

Chow said from public forums and town hall sessions he chaired on PIL1, it was found that 80% of the people – the silent majority – were for the project.

He said technical experts were called in to address concerns raised by the public and non-governmental organisations about the project during the sessions.

“The state views the protests from a loud minority as differences in opinion and aims to continuously and consistently engage with the fractions by bringing in independent experts to explain and enlighten where misconceptions are brewing.”

However, Chow said the state will continue to value and consider all comments, suggestions and concerns raised by the people in fine-tuning the PIL1 alignment.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for PIL1 was displayed to the public for about a month mid last year.

Civil groups in the state have been criticising the project, calling it to be scrapped because of environmental concerns and scepticism that the new road could permanently solve the traffic problem.

Last month, a source familiar with the PTMP projects told The Malaysian Insight that the EIA has been sent to Putrajaya for approval. – February 13, 2019.

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  • Pekan lanun and his 40 thieves 'sapu' Felda clean and he expects the penang people to use the PIL fund to rescue those ignorant felda folks that still support him.

    Posted 5 years ago by Chee yee ng · Reply