Penang undersea tunnel, RM6.3 billion and 30-year toll concession

I have yet to really understand the need for the Penang Undersea Tunnel Project linking Gurney Drive in the island with Bagan Ajam on the mainland side. I tried to search for the estimated number of vehicles which will use the link when it’s completed but could not find any as yet. As per reported in many media recently, the undersea tunnel would cost RM6.3 billion of which RM5.4 billion is for construction cost, RM540 million for land acquisition and RM305 million for feasibility studies including a detailed design for the project and environmental impact assessment. This study would be completed by July 2016. Let’s look at all the information which I could find online today.
Main contractor is Consortium Zenith BUCG. Its chairman is Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifliin
As per Datuk Zarul, the undersea tunnel will be tolled so that the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge (Penang second bridge) will not lose its traffic. (else, compensation may be claimed from the Federal Government by Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd). The toll rate would match that of the second bridge.
The toll concession is for 30 years and the builder would also be receiving payment-in-kind of 110 acres (44.5ha) of land.
As per Penang State Works Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng, this toll for the tunnel is to cover maintenance, repairs and operations. The RM305 million budget for  is just 5.54 percent of overall construction cost.
The feasibility study, detailed design and environmental impact assessment is currently 83 percent completed.
The actual tunnel is at least 20 metres below the seabed.
The four-lane 7.2km long tunnel’s completion is expected in 2025. (9 years from now)
Currently, RM135 million has been paid to CZBUCG as this is advance payment for the detailed design works that had been carried out.
underseatunnelAs at two weeks ago, when I was driving past Penang’s Second Bridge, I still felt that the number of vehicles on the bridge remained low. Perhaps that was because I was driving across the bridge during a weekend. I am always supportive of more connections because it would mean more economic activities between both sides (island and mainland). Please be as transparent as possible in terms of all the benefits from the undersea tunnel. Two questions which I believe should have some answers. How much would be the expected toll collection for the 30-year concession? What would happen after the 30-year concession? Let’s keep reading.
written on 11 May 2016
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