THE major components of Penang Transport Master Plan will be fully funded by revenues generated from the sale of reclaimed land of the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic).
He said the fully funded nature of the components - the Bayan Lepas LRT and the Pan Island Link (PIL) expressway - were unlike any other mega infrastructure projects currently being critically reviewed by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP).
He was responding to Penang Forum, a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups, which urged the Pakatan Harapan Penang government to review the PTMP estimated to cost RM46bil.
“When the CEP began reviewing mega infrastructure projects to determine their benefit to the rakyat, it was in the context of using large sums of public funds to finance such mega projects and whether there would be a positive return to our nation and rakyat.
“This is clearly different from PTMP’s components which would be fully funded by the revenues generated from the sale of reclaimed land of the Penang South Reclamation project,” said Chow, citing the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) as among the projects being reviewed by the CEP.
Chow, in his statement, also wished to rectify the misleading statements by Penang Forum.
He said the state government had called for a Request for Proposal (RFP) to implement the PTMP Strategy through the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) concept.
He said the RFP was called in 2014 with objectives to include a well-connected road network and dispersal systems, a well-integrated and sustainable public transport system, recommendations to improve accessibility and convenience.
He said SRS Consortium was concluded to have the best overall proposal among six local and international bidders, which were evaluated based on qualities such as TMP proposal, delivery track record, financial standing, funding/business models and others.
“Under the SRS Consortium proposal, both the Bayan Lepas LRT and the PIL belong fully to the Penang government.
“The reclaimed land also belongs fully to the state government and its proceeds would be used to fund the LRT and PIL construction,” said Chow.
Chow said the public coffers would not be unduly burdened by the project, and the rakyat would receive crucial transport infrastructure in the form of both the Bayan Lepas LRT and the PIL within several years.
Chow pointed out the PSR comprising three islands measuring 4,500 acres was necessary to provide a crucial economic platform for the continuation of Penang’s economic growth engines.
He said the state intended to appoint an independent economic consultant soon to provide valuable data and recommendations.
“Furthermore, the state intends to conduct a Master Planning competition amongst top global architect and developmental teams, to ensure the best global minds are employed to provide the latest ground-breaking ideas in the Master Planning of the three reclaimed islands.
“Furthermore, the provision of substantial public and affordable housing would be a key agenda to ensure sustainable living standards at the reclaimed islands for all Penangites,” he said.
Chow said the three islands would be designed as Smart Cities to “leapfrog” Penang into the future and provide a firm foundation of future economic growth.
He said the insights from the results on Fisheries Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment and Marine Traffic Risk Assessment had ensured that the state government took a highly considered approach to continuously improve the livelihoods of the fishermen community in southern Penang Island.
“For example, new fishermen jetties will be built along the beachfront and the ecology enhancement initiatives such as artificial reefs, fish aggregating devices and other related infrastructure would be built to ensure sustainable catch for the fishermen within the area.
“The state would also provide re-skilling training for those fishermen who wish to embark on alternative careers, as well as educational priorities to all children of fishermen,” he said.
Chow said the state has taken a highly balanced approach to ensure all stakeholders of Penang benefit in the implementation of the PTMP and the PSR project.
“Penang would also witness continuing vibrant economic growth via the new land provided by the PSR, transforming Penang into a vibrant globally inter-connected Smart City of the future, whilst still retaining the heritage and cultural values of fishermen of south Penang,” he said.
Earlier, Penang Forum had said that the Penang government should bear in mind its election manifesto of balancing economic growth with environmental protection and a commitment to improve public transport.
It said given the scale of the funding for this mega project, the state must ensure government procurement produces the best value for taxpayers’ money.
It also said the awarding process used was based on a RFP, rather than a true open tender, which did not allow for any meaningful comparison of bid documents as the scope of work was not fixed.
“Hence the award process must also be reviewed and revisited,” the statement read.