THE people of Penang want the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) and only a ‘loud’ minority is against the highway project, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
Calling those who supported the project the ‘silent’ majority, he said their response was evident through the townhall sessions, public displays and open displays of Request for Proposal documents.
“Technical experts have been called in at these townhall sessions to address every concern raised by the non-governmental organisations and individuals who could not see the relevance of PIL 1,” said Chow in a statement recently.
He was giving a point-to-point rebuttal to former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who had said that the project was a total waste of public money, caused environmental damage and would be the most expensive in the country at a cost of RM7.5bil.
Najib, in his Facebook, also said the cost could increase to RM9bil or RM461mil per km making it one of the most expensive links ever and that the money could be used to bail out Felda’s RM8bil debt and aid farmers.
Chow said the funding for the project was designed in such a way that no taxpayers’ money would be utilised to fund the project, rather it would be fully funded through Penang South Reclamation (PSR), which is owned by the stategovernment and not by any developer or contractor.
“The state wishes to clarify that there is no cost escalation for the PIL 1 project, as alleged in the FB post.”
“The most glaring was that the cost of PIL 1 which is said to have escalated from RM7.5bil to RM9bil which had been cooked-up anddistorted, without stating anyfactual basis, with the intention to mislead and divert public’s attention,” he said.
Chow further said that efforts to compare costs between projects would only confuse the public, without taking into consideration other factors in a comprehensive manner as each project would have unique features that aredissimilar with the project it is compared against.
On the allegation that the state government had sold thousands of hectares of the reclaimed area, Chow said it was not true as the state is the proprietor of PSR project and would solely own the three islands.
“The main function of PIL 1 is to relieve the traffic congestions at the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway as it is a known fact that traffic congestion in Penang is worsening by the day and the state is striving to resolve this issue via various proposals under the Penang Transport Master Plan.
“We continue to value all comments and concerns received and each suggestion will be taken into consideration in fine-tuning the PIL 1 alignment for the benefit of all.”
The six-lane, 19.5km PIL 1 consists of elevated roads and roads tunnelled through the Penang Hill range to connect Gurney Drive in the northeast to the Penang International Airport in the southeast.
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