GEORGE TOWN: The proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) highway project has hit a snag after the state government failed to obtain a RM1bil bridging loan.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said since the loan from the federal government was not forthcoming, the project delivery partner would now have to source for the funds.
“This is an additional option we are looking at,” he told the Sunday Star regarding the loan from the federal government which had been pending for some time.
Chow said the government was still waiting for the Environmental Impact Assessment approval for the Penang South Reclamation (PSR), the funding model for the RM46bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) encompassing the PIL1.
When asked if the PSR projects would be approved in June as mentioned early this year, Chow said “hopefully”.
However, SRS Consortium, the project delivery partner, said the state should stick to the agreement in the Request For Proposal that mentions that the state would come up with RM1bil, while the company looks for the RM1.3bil bridging loan to kick-start the project.
“That was what was agreed upon,” said SRS Consortium project director Szeto Wai Loong.
“In fact, we are looking at the overall approval for the PTMP projects if the PSR funding could be obtained by June.”
He said the necessary regulatory works and awarding of contracts would take place after the approval and the actual construction could only begin a year after that.
“We understand the state is looking at all aspects for the project, as such it would take some time to get the approvals,” he said.
The controversial PIL1 is designed to solve the island state’s traffic congestion and cater to the economic needs of Penang over the next five decades.
The first phase of the PTMP is the construction of the PIL1 and the Bayan Lepas LRT.
Presently, the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu (LCE) Expressway is Penang’s only spine road, which is perpetually congested.
The PIL1 is expected to serve as a second link with a ring traffic dispersal system connecting the North Coast Paired Road, Gurney Expressway, the LCE expressway, the Penang International Airport and the first as well as second Penang bridges.
The RM7.5bil PIL1 (19.5km six-lane highway) will meander along the foothills of Penang Hill from Gurney Drive to the airport.
The highway is designed to enable motorists to reach the airport in 15 minutes from Gurney Drive compared with 90 minutes now through the city’s traffic.