23 Apr Penang CM unrelenting on strategic projects despite federal govt’s objection
Published by The Vibes • 23/04/2022 • 11:56 am
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says Penang is eager to begin the LRT development process by embarking on a pre-qualification process from May, seeking any parties to submit their interests. – The Vibes file pic, April 23, 2022
GEORGE TOWN – Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has vowed to fight on for strategic projects which have been disapproved by the federal government and Kedah’s move to undertake projects that may undermine Penang’s economy.
He gave the assurance in an interview with Chinese-language newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau, whose contents were featured on his Facebook page.
He said that Penang is now updating an improved version of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the proposed mammoth Penang South Islands (PSI) reclamation project.
“Penang will not give up,” said Chow when he was posed a question on whether
Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who is from PAS, would change his mind and support the initiative.
“We believe there is nothing wrong with the content of the report, such as mitigation recommendations to reduce the impact of the project. The ministry has experience and expertise in assessing reports and drafting projects, so we believe that our report will be reviewed fairly,” said Chow.
The rejection of the EIA despite an earlier approval, following an appeal by the inshore fishermen and environmentalists here, is considered a setback to Chow’s administration.
Chow said that the state government is committed to working with the fishermen by launching a social impact management plan in the affected southern part of the island.
“I believe that the latest public opinion survey shows that more local fishermen are aware of the economic effects of the plan, and from the above measures we can also see that we are handling it with sincerity and seriousness,” he said.
Chow reiterated that the PSR project is crucial for the future of the state.
The proposed project covers 17 sq km and involves the development of three man-made islands – dubbed islands A, B and C – off Permatang Damar Laut near Bayan Lepas.
It was mooted as a funding module for the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan with proceeds from it underwriting the proposed light rail transit system (LRT) from Komtar to the Penang International Airport and three major new highways.
The project delivery partner SRS Consortium would reclaim one of the proposed three islands and it will pay RM3.8 billion to reclaim half of Island A as part of a 30:70 joint venture with a state-owned company, with the larger portion held by SRS.
Chow also confirmed that a new airport would not be built on the reclaimed islands.
On Kedah’s move to rename the proposed Kulim International Airport to Kedah Aerotropolis to avoid affecting the status of Penang’s airport, Chow replied that Penang is always open to any development that is conducive to economic growth.
“However, the changes mentioned do not rule out that the new airport in Kedah may have an impact on airport operations and growth in Penang,” he said.
“In any case, I hope the expansion plan of our airport here will not be affected. A smooth aviation sector is crucial for our development.”
Chow also said that Penang is eager to begin the LRT development process by embarking on a pre-qualification process from May, seeking any parties to submit their interests.
The request for proposal process will begin in the second half of this year, he added.
Averting water supply problems in the future
On water supply woes, Chow said that the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP), which he chairs, will implement the raw water contingency plan to ensure that there is adequate supply until 2030.
The specific projects include the second stage of the upgrading of the sedimentation tank of the Sungai Lai Water Treatment Plant and the 12A package of the same plant.
The Mengkuang Dam and the water intake facilities at the Sg Muda and Sg Prai rivers will be upgraded, he said.
PBAPP also proposes to implement seawater desalination technology in Penang, as used in Singapore, to meet future raw water supply needs after 2030.
If the Perak River raw water transfer plan cannot be implemented before 2050, Penang proposes the desalination option as a contingency plan after 2030, he added.
He also said that Penang has so far not received any legal letter from Kedah over its extraction of water from Sg Muda.
On a review of the water tariff rates, he said the state will be responsible by seeking approval from the National Water Commission. – The Vibes, April 23, 2022