Penang sea project set to take off

Given the green light: An aerial view of the Penang South Reclamation project from Teluk Tempoyak. — ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The proposed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) is set to get going with the state expecting formal approval for the environment management plan (EMP) once the movement control order is over.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the Project Delivery Partner (PDP), SRS Consortium, had complied with all conditions needed for the EMP approval and the reclamation of Island A was expected to begin.

Island A is the largest of the three islands to be reclaimed. It is the one closest to the end of the runway of Penang International Airport in Permatang Damar Laut.

“The EMP approval is the subsequent process as the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project was approved on June 25,2019, ” Zairil said.

SRS Consortium project director Szeto Wai Leong said the EMP would have been approved earlier, if not for the MCO.

“We are certain that the approval will be obtained as the DOE (Environment Department) had visited the site and all requirements have been met. The project is ready to go once we get the formal approval, ” he said.

The EIA for the project expires in June and the state, through Deputy Chief Minister l Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, is finalising the compensation package with the fishermen after several discussions.

Both Zakiyuddin and Zairil told The Star that the project to reclaim Island A could begin once the EMP was approved as the fishermen would still be going to sea during the early phases of the reclamation.

Zakiyuddin had earlier said the proposed social impact management plan of the project included compassionate aid and housing schemes.

“The project can begin while negotiations are going on as the fishermen can still go to out sea as usual, ” he added.

Zairil said since the reclamation was for now only Island A, which is 930ha, the project cost was expected to be less than RM6bil which would be borne by the PDP.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, when contacted, said while there was no definite date for work to begin, he was confident that it would begin soon.

“We are wrapping up all work including the approval and the fishermen’s compensation.

“PSR has been identified as the funding model for Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) since day one although a federal guarantee would have made our financial planning more feasible, ” said Chow when asked whether PSR was the only model since there was no federal funding forthcoming.

The state is aggressively pushing through the reclamation project to fund its RM45bil PTMP components, which includes the Pan Island Link 1 and Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit.

The proposed project involves the reclamation and development of three man-made islands covering 1,820ha namely Island A (930ha), Island B (566ha) and Island C (324ha).

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said in Parliament on July 23 last year that PSR would not be given the green light pending approval of the EMP, which was one of the main conditions out of the 72 conditions imposed under the EIA.

There were concerns the project would lead to permanent destruction resulting in residual effects to the environment which will affect mudflats, turtle landings, fish spawning and coral beds, he said.

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