Evaluating cable car project

NGOs are calling for more frequent maintenance works on the funicular railway and say that the breakdown of the railway cannot be used as an excuse to push for a cable car system.

THE state will only have a better idea of the impact of the Penang Hill cable car project once its feasibility study is completed, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Chow said local NGOs could consult Penang Hill Corporation on the study as the corporation would have the necessary information.

“My recent interview with The Star conveyed my views correctly about the situation and the need for a new cable car.

“After the study is completed, we will have a better idea of the situation, ” he said during a press conference held at his office in Komtar.

He was commenting on an exclusive report last Wednesday detailing the need for a cable car up to Penang Hill and the expected completion date.

Chow was responding to a statement by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) which questioned the need for the cable car.

Both SAM president Meenakshi Raman and CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said in the statement that the cable car project was not environmentally sustainable.

“The cable car project, if implemented, will cause irreparable damage to the hills and gardens through the building of more hotels, bungalows for the elites, cafes, amusement joints and roads.

“The breakdown of the existing funicular railway cannot be used as an excuse to push for the cable car project without investigating the causes of the breakdown and how to prevent breakdowns in the future.

“We understand that the maintenance works for the funicular railway are carried out only once a year.

“With the overuse of the railway and infrequent maintenance, breakdowns are bound to happen.

“More frequent maintenance works need to be done, perhaps once in nine months instead.”

The NGOs called for thorough studies on the impact of the cable car project on both the hill and Penang Botanic Gardens before any decision was made.

Under Budget 2020, the Federal Government announced RM100mil for the development of the cable car.

In dialogue sessions with stakeholders, Chow had earlier said he expected eight to 10 pylons would be needed to support the cables which links the summit to a “station outside the gates of the Botanic Gardens, near Penang Rifle Club”.

At the hilltop, the plan is to have the station near the entrance to the Habitat, a nature park with elevated walkways through the forest canopy.

Chow had said in an exclusive interview with The Star that he believed the project would generate growth for the tourism sector and create job opportunities.

“The cable car project will distribute traffic and divert the crowd during peak holiday seasons.

‘“This will allow users of all ages to better appreciate the natural beauty of Penang Hill from an elevated position, ” he said.

Chow stated that the cable car system, widely known as the aerial ropeway, was known to the world as an environmentally sustainable transport.

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