Gamuda Bhd is the favourite to land the job as the Project Development Partner (PDP) to oversee the implementation of key components of an integrated transportation plan on Penang island
The state that is expected to issue a request for proposal (RFP) exercise next month have made it clear that only companies with a minimum RM3bil annual turnover and a track record of 15 years can participate.
Two key components of the RFP would be to build a 17.5 kilometre light rail transit (LRT) project that connects the Komtar building to the airport and a link cutting across the island from Bayan Lepas to Tanjong Bungah.
The Bayan Lepas-Tanjong Bungah cuts across a mountainous terrain and would require tunnels.
“The LRT project alone is estimated at RM4.5bil,” said a source.
In return for implementing the entire transportation system, which is expected to cost RM27bil and to be done over many years, the PDP would be awarded with the rights to reclaim a sizeable amount of land in the state.
Sources familiar with the proposed plan said Gamuda met with the state government officials about two months ago to present its proposal.
“The proposal to construct a LRT line would need the license from the Federal Government which would be the responsibility of the PDP. For instance, if Gamuda wins the mandate, it would also be responsible for securing the licence,” the source said.
The Scomi Group is the dark horse for the project because it already has a mandate from the Federal Government to carry out a train project on the island.
“The mandate was given in 2008 but could not be implemented after the state government fell into the hands of the opposition,” said an industry official.
In exchange for carrying out the project, the state is giving the PDP the rights to reclaim large tracts of land and the option is in two areas on the island.
The first option is an area in the southern part of the island involving reclamation of some 2,000 acres of which about 30% or some 600 acres will be carved out for the state for the future expansion of the Penang International Airport and to enlarge the Free Industrial Zone (FIZ).
The other option is for the PDP to reclaim the seagrass land located in between the Penang Bridge and the river mouth of Sungai Pinang, which is popularly known as the Middle Bank seagrass.
The state has already indicated that it would start work on an integrated transportation master plan last month.
In relation to this, on June 13, Penang Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had said in a press conference the Penang government would call for a RFP in August for companies to bid to be the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) in the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan strategy.
According to Chow, the appointed PDP must be a reliable partner to the state to guarantee the projects’ delivery.
“They will have to oversee all the projects with costs estimated at RM27bil. The costs cover highway infrastructure (RM16bil) and public transport (RM9bil). The institutional costs amount to RM905mil,” Chow had said during the press conference held in June.
Chow had said that any interested company or consortium comprising local or international companies could take part in the RFP and the submission period was open for three months. Chow said the appointed PDP had to ensure that the projects complied with government policies and procedures, and obtain all relevant approvals including securing of funds.
He said the PDP would not be working on the projects but only acting as a consultant to the state.
“However, the PDP will be involved in the calling for tender process of the transport master plan projects and will have to step in should the contractors fail to deliver, either to replace the contractors or to do it themselves under their own cost,” Chow had said.
The concept is almost similar to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s plan to build a tunnel between Penang island and Butterworth together with a traffic dispersal system near the Gurney Drive and Tanjong Bungah area.
The project was awarded to Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between a Malaysian company and a China company. The entire project is expected to cost RM6.3bil and is to be paid by the company having some 110 acres of land in the reclaimed area of Tanjong Tokong.