GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Forum – the main critic of the proposed RM46 billion Penang Transport Masterplan – now wants the state government to review the project to reduce costs.
“Now that the state has failed to get the RM1 billion bridging loan from the federal government, it is time to review the project outlay and incorporate cheaper alternatives that will also not harm the environment,“ forum spokesman, Dr Lim Mah Hu,i said in a statement, today.
The forum is a coalition of more than 50 civil societies and individuals from diverse backgrounds with an interest in environmental conservation.
Lim, a former banker, said this was an opportunity for the state to review the project and come up with a cost-saving package.
“I urge the state to engage independent consultants to review the various components of the masterplan and come up with long-term solutions to Penang’s traffic problems,“ he said.
The first phase of the project entails building a new highway encircling the island to complement the light rail transit system, followed by an undersea cross-channel tunnel and three traffic dispersal highways.
Apart from that are a dual monorail, trams and other roads.
Also mooted is a cable car system between Butterworth, on the mainland, and Weld Quay, on the island.
“Is it fair for the future generations to bear the burden of public debt that will likely be incurred by this mega project?” Lim queried.
He suggested that the state improved the public transport system by using buses rather than build more roads.
Lim said the plan to reclaim land off Bayan Lepas to pay for the project would affect the state’s ecology and the livelihood of fishermen in the area.