GEORGE TOWN: The state government has clarified that the proposed RM1bil soft loan from the Federal Government is an alternative to borrowing RM1bil from China Exim Bank.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the idea came from SRS Consortium, the project delivery partner of the Penang Transport Master Plan, following the change of the political environment in the country.
“With the soft loan, SRS would be able to call for tender for both the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the 19.5km Pan-Island Link I (PIL I) from Gurney Drive to the airport simultaneously.
“Carrying out both projects at the same time will take us about five or six years. Otherwise, it will take 12 years to complete.
“Our intention is to complete the projects earlier,” he said at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.
Chow said if the soft loan could not be obtained from both avenues, then they would have to go back to the original financial model, which is land reclamation.
“We have not made any formal application to the Federal Government for the soft loan.
“We are exploring all avenues. It could be a combination of two or three,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chow added that the state was looking forward to collaborating with Prasarana Malaysia Bhd to implement the water transportation project, which covers water taxis and catamarans.
On another matter, Chow said the Transport Ministry has outlined several short- and long-term measures for the Penang International Airport.
Chow, who is also Tanjong MP, said this was conveyed in a written reply by Transport Minister Anthony Loke on Monday.
As a short-term measure, he said the ministry, through Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), would implement terminal optimisation to reduce congestion, especially during peak hours.
“The terminal optimisation is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year.
“Right now, MAHB is in the process of preparing a tender to appoint a contractor to carry out renovation work at the airport,” Chow said.
As a long-term measure, Chow said, MAHB planned to increase the passenger handling capacity from 6.5 million passengers a year to 12 million passengers a year.
“They are now in the process of appointing a consultant through open tender.
“I would also like to stress that no land will be acquired for the expansion as there is enough existing land,” he said.