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Saturday June 28, 2008

Deferment gets NGOs’ aye

GEORGE TOWN: Though the state government is upset with the Federal Government's decision to defer the proposed RM2bil monorail and RM1.5bil Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) projects, non-governmental or-ganisations are welcoming the move.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M. Mo-hamed Idris welcomed the decision.

“We also need to look at the overall development projects in the country, and not focus on just a few mega structures,” he said.

Mohamed Idris said the focus should be on a better public transportation system.

Greenlane Heights Block H residents committee chairman Munir Ismail said the proposed PORR should be scrapped to avert environmental problems.

“We have objected to this project all along.

“With the recent drastic increase in fuel price, we feel the government should look into easing the people's burden,” he said.

Munir said the Greenlane Heights area was one of the sites that were close to the proposed PORR alignment.

“We must look at measures taken in the Klang Valley such as increasing bus services to improve the public transport system. We must emulate such measures,” he said.

Blogger and social activist Anil Netto said the scrapping of the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) might be a blessing in disguise as it was a short-term plan to reduce crowded roads.

“Penang and other states need a sustainable transport master plan where public transport is a viable alternative,” Anil said during a Penang Gerakan Teh Tarik Forum held on Thursday.

He suggested that the government focused on expanding ferry routes, bus services, cycling networks and street-level electric trams.

Lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon, who had never been supportive of the PORR, said its deferment was a good move.

“The money should be channelled back to the people,” he said.

Tabung Haji clerk Ahmad Shah Abdul Hamid, 28, said it did not matter if the PORR was not built as the traffic jams in Penang were not that bad.

“I remember when it was first proposed, there was a lot of hue and cry over the effect that the land reclamation for the project would have on Gurney Drive, which is a beautiful tourist attraction,” he said.