GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government, through the Penang Infrastructure Corporation (PIC), on Saturday (Jan 28) stressed that the Penang South Island (PSI) project will not destroy the livelihoods of fishermen, as claimed by certain parties, instead their route to the sea will be made easier regardless of the tides.
PIC said that the proposed reclamation works will not prevent fishermen from going to sea.
"Their passage to the sea will be facilitated by a new navigation channel, which will allow 24-hour access to the sea regardless of the tides.
"This initiative will be an improvement for fishermen since they have to wait for the tide before they can go to sea at the moment," PIC said in a statement.
In addition, the state government also drew up a Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) scheme on Feb 5, 2021, to help fishermen affected by the PSI project, by upgrading their socio-economic level.
It said that the SIMP scheme was not limited to ex-gratia payments, but includes assistance with boats and engines, empowerment packages and housing schemes, where the state government has offered ex-gratia payments of RM20,000 to skippers and RM12,960 to crew members in level 1, with RM13,200 to skippers and RM5,400 to crew members in level 2.
"The ex-gratia payment offer in the PSI project is the highest in the country when compared with other reclamation projects.
"A total of 345 qualified fishermen have registered for the SIMP scheme to date, and 328 fishermen have received an initial payment of RM500.
"The balance of the ex-gratia financial assistance, as promised, will be given by the state government after approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) is obtained," it said.
"This clearly shows the state government's commitment to continuing the PSI project, which will have a positive impact on the state's economic growth," he said.
On Jan 27, the media reported that the Penang Fishermen's Association (Pen Mutiara) maintained its stance that it would not accept any offer from the Penang government regarding the implementation of the PSI which would affect their livelihoods, without meeting with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Its chairman, Ibrahim Che Rose said he hoped that the Prime Minister's Office would provide a slot for a meeting to discuss the matter. - Bernama