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Cable Car, Tunnel, LRT, more roads and PTMP. Action!

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Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that a new ‘Penang Sky Cab’ (cable car) project would link the Penang Sentral in Butterworth to Gat album Nordic in the island and this would be operational by 2018. It can carry up to 1,000 passengers per hour and will take 15 minutes travel. This is certainly faster than driving across the bridge during jams but I am really not sure how many would take this cable car since Penangites still love cars. Yes, I think this is a good news as an alternative but I seriously think this link is secondary compared to a totally comprehensive transportation masterplan. Remember the new outer ring roads, tunnel and more roads within Penang?

Yes, these days, Penang island is getting pretty jammed. Just google for the recent approvals for development projects within the island. You would notice majority of the projects are pretty high density and this meant more people and more cars are coming into the existing roads. The current plan for these Penang roads? There’s a comprehensive one. It’s called The Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). It sounds very grand because it is indeed a very huge one. RM27 billion to be exact.

Due to the sheer size of the project, the Penang state government is inviting companies to bid to become a Project Delivery Partner (PDP). In brief, a PDP would be the project manager to ensure the whole project starts and ends on time. It would have the full authorities with regards to whom they choose because if the delivery is on time or earlier, the PDP gets paid but if it is late, they would have wasted all their time and effort for virtually nothing. Latest news was that only 6 have actually submitted their bids before the deadline, out of a total of 55. All are huge names in Malaysia. The four mentioned include Gamuda Bhd, IJM Corporation Bhd, WCT Bhd and even Prasarana Malaysia Bhd. According to AMResearch Sdn Bhd, the other two remaining ones are Singapore-based CGC Group Pte Ltd and two Hong Kong investors.

This PDP would also handle the LRT project linking the city centre with the Penang International Airport. It will cost RM4.5 billion but at this moment, the PDP has yet to be finalised. How would the PDP be paid? Well, they would get lands and…. more lands. Instead of getting money, the Penang state government would offer lands in attractive areas. For example, the Eastern & Oriental’s STP2 of which after reclamation, the state government would actually get 110 acres out of the total reclaimed area of 361 acres. So, the PDP gets to develop these land and earn their own fee / profit. The current price of the condos in Seri Tanjung Pinang has already reached RM1,000 psf today, if not higher.

Another suggestion on how the state government may pay the PDP would be the awarding of reclamation rights to the Penang Middlebank which is a piece of land located between the Penang island and the Penang river mouth. Do note though that should this be the case, it is likely to be a thorny issue with the environmentalist NGOs. I think PTMP must succeed, for Penang’s sake. There’s really nothing much to be done with the existing road connections and whatever plans the state government has must start. I have my preference for the company that wins but it’s ok. Let the state government decide then. Happy anticipating.

written on 14 Apr 2015

Next suggested article: LRT in Penang, Tunnels and up to RM27 Billion Transportation System

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