‘Penang LRT will be worth the hassle’

CM: Cost being finalised, around RM10.5bil

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang LRT Mutiara Line project has undergone all due processes, and its cost can only be judged after proposals and terms are finalised, says Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic).

In a press conference here yesterday, he said that while the construction process may cause some inconvenience, the completed project will bring lasting benefits to the state in several aspects.

“The project has come a long way through the necessary processes, including numerous stakeholder engagements and consultations.

“I’m certain that NGOs and individuals have also given their feedback.

“In the end, the decision to implement the project, as announced by the Transport Ministry, was made by the Federal Government.

“The project will only start after the request for proposals (RFP) and other negotiations are completed soon,” he said.

Chow said that they would only consider the project cost after deciding on the final details.

“The cost will only be decided after the designs, systems and trains are finalised.

“It should be within the RM10.5bil that was announced, and these would be decided after the RFP and agreements are finalised,” he said.

On traffic congestion and burdens during the construction, Chow said it would be something the people needed to bear with for a better future.

“The project has so far received over 90% support from the people, and I hope NGOs that are opposing it will rethink the matter,” he said.

Earlier, Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman expressed regret over the Cabinet’s approval for the LRT and urged that the project be relooked as it is expensive, on top of lingering concerns that its construction would harm the environment.

Meanwhile, market watchers said the Federal Government made the right decision by having SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd (SRS) in the driver’s seat as far as the delivery of Segment 1 of the Mutiara line is concerned.

According to Mak Hoy Ken, construction analyst at CIMB Securities, SRS has been involved in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) for more than a decade, with the consortium (through its various iterations) having spent more than RM100mil in preparation work over the years to get the transport master plan off the ground.

“This also considers the fact that the Penang state government has engaged SRS as a project delivery partner for the PTMP since a tender exercise in August 2015,” said Mak.

He added that Gamuda Bhd, which owns 60% of SRS and has already achieved much both locally and internationally, is another factor that gives regulators and watchers great confidence.

“Gamuda has a long-standing track record in public transport infrastructure development over the years, and it is currently doing well in Australia and elsewhere,” he said.

As far as indicative costs are concerned, Mak said some extrapolation can be done by studying the pricing for the Shah Alam LRT (formerly known as LRT3).

“Costs have roundly escalated since the Penang LRT was mooted, and I think a figure of around RM8bil could be the starting point for discussions on SRS’ portion of the civil works (excluding land acquisition, systems and trainsets),” he added.

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