PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan has fired a salvo of questions at the Penang state government over the Penang Tunnel project in a Facebook post this Monday.
"I did not ask if the entire RM6.34 billion project was awarded based on open tender but I specifically asked if the three studies costing RM305 million were awarded based on open tender," said Abdul Rahman in his post.
He added that the Bursa Malaysia announcement of Astral Supreme Bhd dated 15 August 2013 stated that the feasibility study and detailed design costing RM270 million was awarded by CZBUCG (Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd) to a joint-venture between its majority shareholder itself, Zenith Construction with public-listed Astral Supreme Bhd, and that Astral Supreme Bhd was terminated one year later, and it was stated that Astral was "unable to find consultants who could undertake the project".
"The Penang government also does not seem to have addressed my concern that the same company awarded to construct the project was also responsible to do the studies to determine whether their own project is feasible or environmentally acceptable or not . Is this the case and is this a conflict of interest?" asked Abdul Rahman
He also questioned why the feasibility study for the three related roads is worth RM31 million while that of the undersea tunnel is worth RM20 million.
"The total of RM51 million for the feasibility study alone and RM305 million for all three studies are still expensive figures for studies. I take note that the Penang Government has not indicated that it will engage with the Works Ministry who had offered to help them reduce their cost and ensure project timeliness which I highly recommend the Penang government to consider," said Abdul Rahman.
He added that the Penang government says that there is no delay in the project although they admit the feasibility studies are not fully completed.
"The consortium had announced that they would complete the feasibility study by April 2014, despite the fact that one of the original parties awarded to do the feasibility and design studies had to be terminated one year later due to lack of consultants and despite no tangible construction work has started. Can the Penang government share with us the original and current project schedule?" said Abdul Rahman.
He also pointed out that the Penang government had said that CZBUCG is allowed to collect toll for 30 years because it is not able to afford the maintenance of the Penang Tunnel although it is able to entirely fund the RM6.34 billion construction cost of the project.
"More worrying is that the Penang government now says that the toll charges are to be set at the same rate as the second Penang bridge on the excuse that the Penang government does not want the operator of the second bridge to suffer losses," said Abdul Rahman.
He added that this was unacceptable for several reasons.
"The toll rate for the second bridge was fixed on the basis that the operator will collect toll to pay for the maintenance of the bridge and to recoup its investment put in to construct the bridge.However, the Penang Tunnel operator will be charging the same toll rate even though it does not need to recover their construction cost as the Penang government is completely paying for it," said Abdul Rahman.
He added that imposing toll on roads is against Pakatan's manifesto."Now that the Penang DAP government has confirmed a 30 years concession will be given, is DAP prepared to admit that it is no longer against toll highways.