THE Penang Forum Steering Committee raised two main points against the Penang Island City Council (MBPP)’s plans for a road- widening exercise involving part of Jalan Masjid Negeri (also popularly known as Green Lane).
Whilst the state government is puzzled at the furore over the removing and replanting of 16 trees (30 years old trees), we will strive to respond to the two main issues raised in the interest of transparency and open government.
Firstly, whether the additional lane can alleviate the current traffic congestion. Secondly, whether this exercise is in tandem with our commitment to a cleaner and greener state. The answer to both is yes.
Given that Green Lane functions as a main artery in the island’s existing network of roads, it undoubtedly bears a major brunt of traffic as residents would ply the route for their day-to-day business.
The proposed improvements are contained in the Penang Transport Master Plan, combining a 5-in-1 solution combining LRT/monorail, taxis, buses, cable car and water taxis/ferries.
Hence, the road-widening exercise comes in at an opportune time not as a one-stop solution but instead, serves two distinct pur-poses — as an interim move to curb current traffic congestion and an alternative route once the Air Itam bypass is completed.
The Steering Committee highlighted the fact that the road-widening exercise will affect 16 trees in total.
They may also want to consider the following facts — the number of trees along Green Lane (the whole stretch from Jalan Udini to Jalan Ayer Itam) is 427 and will become 580 if Scotland Road (from Jalan Ayer Itam to Jalan Utama) is added into the equation.
The percentage of affected trees is 3.75% or 2.76% respectively; and the 16 trees in question will not be disposed but replanted at a new location.
Lest we forget no credit is given to our success in planting 271,00 trees since we took power in 2008, but attention is focused on the removal of 16 trees.
Just as the Steering Committee is passionate on the fate of the 16 trees, we are also committed in finding arrangements to mitigate the acute traffic problems besetting the island.
For this purpose, we welcome discussions with Penang Forum and other NGOs, so that the parties concerned may be heard and wherever possible, be acted upon.
We will be blamed for not building roads but we are now blamed also for building roads. Tell us what should we do?
LIM GUAN ENG
Chief Minister of Penang
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