GEORGE TOWN: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Penang branch has asked PLUS Malaysia Bhd to postpone the year-long maintenance work on Penang Bridge, which is scheduled to start this Tuesday, to Sept 15.
Branch chairman Datuk Dr Ooi Eng Hock (pic) said this would give more time for affected factories to plan their operations as well as adjust the work shifts of their employees so that they are not caught in peak-hour traffic jams.
He said the federation was not informed beforehand of the impending closure of one lane on each side at the centre span for six months each.
“We are very disappointed that PLUS did not give us enough time to familiarise ourselves with the proposed changes. Our members need to understand the effects of the partial closure of the bridge for the maintenance work.
“The closure will adversely affect the factories’ transport and logistics operations. We will need to ensure that our supply chain is not affected and that our factories can continue to function normally,” Dr Ooi said in a press statement yesterday.
He urged PLUS to consider building another lane, subject to technical feasibility, on both the left and right side of the middle span of the bridge, so maintenance work could be carried out using those lanes, without affecting bridge users.
“The new lanes can also double up as a tourist or observation lane or for emergency stops when they are not used during bridge maintenance work.
“PLUS should also work with the ferry service to increase the frequency of the ferries during the maintenance period so that a better alternative is available,” he said.
PLUS corporate communications head Mohd Nizam Ismail could not be reached at press time for comment.
It was earlier reported that a stretch of one lane on each side along the middle span will be closed for six months each from Tuesday.
During the closures, a corresponding stretch of a lane on the opposite direction will be turned into contraflow lane for four hours every day during peak hours.
The year-long closures are for bridge maintenance which is needed every four years. The shut-off stretches are 1.4km to 1.7km long.
From Tuesday to Feb 21 next year, the outermost lane on the mainland-bound side will be closed between Km6.8 and Km5.4.
From 4pm to 8pm daily, a lane on the other side along the same stretch will be converted into a contraflow lane for mainland-bound traffic.
From Feb 22 to Aug 21 next year, it will be the island-bound side’s turn, with the outermost lane closed between Km4.1 and Km5.8. From 6am to 10am daily, one lane on the mainland-bound direction along the stretch will be used for contraflow, for the island-bound rush hour traffic.