GEORGE TOWN: Penangites have upped the ante in their fight to protect the environment.
Apart from their objection to the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) scheme, they now want a stop to all such projects around their state.
The Penang Fishermen Association (Pen Mutiara), an umbrella organisation representing about 10,000 fishermen and wholesalers, have trained their sights on yet another such project — the Butterworth Reclamation Project. The scheme involves the construction of the Butterworth Open Ring Road (BORR) and the creation of a 650ha island off the coast of Seberang Prai.
This new man-made isle will span 854m — from Butterworth to Teluk Ayer Tawar — directly across the channel from George Town.
This will be in addition to three more islands coming up off the southern coast of Penang Island under the PSR scheme.
The BORR was mooted in 1999 but was halted midway by financial hiccups. Recently, the state announced that it would be revived, and the company to undertake the project is Rayston Consortium (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd.
Pen Mutiara president Nazri Ahmad told a press conference today many issues related to the project remained unresolved.
“For a start, there has been no word on compensation despite the promises made,“ he said.
He said there were plans for new jetties and even affordable housing for those who would be affected by the project “but nothing has materialised”.
He expressed fears that the mangrove swamps in Teluk Ayer Tawar that served as a refuge for migratory birds would be destroyed if the reclamation proceeded.
“We are still reeling from the effects of the reclamation on the island — from Gurney Drive to Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi,“ he said.
The fishing community is still fighting to stop the PSR scheme. Under the scheme, the reclaimed islands will be sold to the private sector and the proceeds from the sale will be used to underwrite the cost of the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.
A total of 45 non-governmental organisations and resident associations have already joined in the fight.
The PTMP comprises a tunnel linking Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam on the mainland, and four intra-island highways. The first will link Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway via Air Itam, the second is from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang and two other pan-island link highways near Bayan Baru.
In addition, there is a proposal for a light rail transit (LRT) link from Komtar to the Penang International Airport, a water taxi transport system and an inner-city tram service.
The delivery partner for the project is SRS Consortium, which comprises Gamuda Bhd, Ideal Properties Bhd and Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Two reclamation projects are already under way — one off Queensbay in Bayan Baru that will serve as a link to Pulau Jerejak, and the other, known as the Gurney Wharf Reclamation scheme in Gurney Drive. This is the second phase of the Straits Quay reclamation by the E&O Group.