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No decision yet on implementation of Penang undersea tunnel project

No decision yet on implementation of Penang undersea tunnel project

Published by NewsStraitsTime• 23/11/2023

State Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman, Zairil Khir Johari, said that the NBCT expansion masterplan is expected to be finalised next month.

GEORGE TOWN: The state government will only consider any decision on the implementation of the Penang undersea tunnel project after the finalisation of the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) expansion masterplan by the Penang Port Commission (PPC).


State Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman, Zairil Khir Johari, said that the NBCT expansion masterplan is expected to be finalised next month.


He added that, based on PPC’s reviews received by the state government, the width of the ship navigation area in the waters north of the port of 2.2km should be maintained to ensure a safe navigation space for ship movement.


“With the trend towards building larger ships and the optimal ship size between 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to 15,000 TEU to enter/stop at the port, these ships are expected to have a water load (maximum draft) of 16m while the minimum safe depth for safe passage for ships of this size is 23m from the seabed.


“As such, among the considerations of this undersea tunnel project is the position of the tunnel alignment so as not to become a disturbance/obstacle to the extension of the additional wharf,” he said in his winding-up speech at the state legislative assembly session here today.


It was reported that the undersea tunnel and three highways project delivery partner,Consortium Zenith Construction (CZC), had completed the feasibility study at the end of 2020 after a four-year delay and submitted it to the state government in December the same year.


The feasibility study on the undersea tunnel project started in December 2014 and was supposed to be completed in 2016, but it was delayed due to various reasons.


CZC presented the draft feasibility report in September 2019, and it was amended with improvements based on reviews by various relevant agencies.


The undersea tunnel project is part of an RM6.3 billion mega-project in the state.


It is at the centre of graft allegations against former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng.


It was also reported that the Penang government had not ruled out the possibility of a third bridge to replace the undersea tunnel project connecting the island and the mainland.


Meanwhile, commenting on the status of the Penang Silicon (PSI) project, Zairil said following the approval of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) on July 21, reclamation work for the PSI project had started in September with the installation of buoys that marked the project site area and silt curtains that controlled as well as addressed the current silt dispersion.


He said once the silt curtain was properly installed, sand filling work started on the site.


“To date, approximately three acres of land have been formed on the PSI site.


“According to the project planning, the first plot of land (parcel) which is industrial land known as Green Tech Park, is expected to be completed in December 2025. The PSI project, which covers an area of 2,300 acres, is expected to be completely filled in 2032,” he said.


With regard to allegations on the damage to marine environment as a result of the PSI project, Zairil emphasised that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the PSI project was approved in April.


“The report was submitted to the public for feedback and was carefully reviewed by the relevant authorities, especially the Department of Environment (DOE) before approval was given.


“Based on the approval of the EIA report, the state government must ensure that mitigation measures are implemented in accordance with the 71 conditions imposed by DOE. Among them is carrying out the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) for the benefit of fishermen and the PSI Ecology Offset Master Plan (PEOM),” he said.


On the Penang International Airport (PIA) expansion project, Zairil said the Transport Ministry, in collaboration with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), is implementing the land acquisition process in accordance with the approval obtained under the Fourth Rolling Plan of the 12th Malaysia Plan (RP4 RMKe-12) with an allocation of RM93 million.


“So far, MAHB has obtained the approval for Planning Permission and Building Plan from the Penang Island City Council.


“As for financing, MAHB is currently in the process of determining the implementation method and financing mechanism for the project,” he added, noting that for the time being, the overall development cost estimate for the PIA upgrading project has yet to be determined as it is still being detailed.

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