GEORGE TOWN: The state government has awarded the RM8bil tender to construct road and undersea tunnel projects on the island to Malaysia-China joint venture Con-sortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd.
The project consists of a 6.5km Gurney Drive-Bagan Ajam undersea tunnel, a 4.2km Gurney Drive-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass, a 4.6km Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass and a 12km road connecting Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the construction company would be given 44.51ha of reclaimed land in Tanjung Pinang in phases.
“One of the four conditions set by the state government is that the concession period for the third link will only be for 30 years and the toll charges must be similar to the second Penang bridge.
“The infrastructure project is estimated to cost less than RM8bil, and the contract will be signed in a few months,” he told a press conference here yesterday,
The Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) had built Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, used in the 2008 Summer Olympics. It is one of the largest construction companies in China.
BUCG is among four local and foreign companies that submitted their proposals for the project.
Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had opposed the mega project and called for the state government to look into improving the public transport system first.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Penang branch adviser D. Kanda Kumar said that instead of spending so much to build a third link, the state should instead use the money to improve the public transport system.
“Why do we need a third link when Penang already has two bridges?” he asked.
Kanda added that the group was concerned from the environmental perspective as the tunnel could lead into a mangrove area in Seberang Prai which was visited by thousands of migratory birds.
Consumer Association of Penang also criticised the project, saying it was unnecessary, a waste of money and potentially damaging to the environment.
Its officer in charge of education, N.V. Subarow, said the state did not need the sea tunnel project.
“The billions to be spent on the project could be better used to improve the public transportation system,” he said, adding that the sea tunnel project could endanger the environment.