GEORGE TOWN: The feasibility study on the Penang undersea tunnel project has been submitted and the state government is waiting for the master plan for the expansion of the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) to be finalised.
Penang infrastructure and transport committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the state government was now waiting for NBCT’s expansion master plan, since the mainland end of the proposed tunnel is near NBCT and has already received the results of the study report on the feasibility of the Penang undersea tunnel since last April.
“The final report of the undersea tunnel feasibility study will only be accepted once the final comment on the NBCT expansion master plan by Penang Port Commission (PPC) is officially obtained,” he said in reply to a question by Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN-Sunggai Dua) during the meeting at the state assembly building here yesterday.
Zairil explained that the time frame for the implementation of the undersea tunnel project is subject to the plan for integrating the tunnel alignment with NBCT’s expansion master plan.
He also answered the Hall on the status of payment costs allocated by the state government for the project.
“No payment has been made for the undersea tunnel project since the feasibility study report has not yet been finalised and received by the state government.
“So far, (the state government) has only made payments in the form of land exchange (in-kind) with a value of RM208,755,080 for the feasibility study and detailed design process specifically for the main roads project only,” he said in response to additional questions.
The project, first announced in 2013, involves boring a tunnel many metres below the seabed between the island and the mainland in Penang.
The initial estimate was to bore a 7.2km tunnel between Gurney Drive on the island and Bagan Ajam, just north of downtown Butterworth.
But NBCT is also there by the coastline and there is a need to factor in the container terminal’s expansion plans.
The undersea tunnel is understood to connect the densest and most economically active quarters of both the island and mainland.
Much controversy surrounds it and former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is now defending himself against graft charges connected with the tunnel project.