THE much-awaited Gurney Wharf project, an initiative of the Penang government, will be gradually opened to the public when it is safe to do so as it enters the construction phase following a ground-breaking ceremony at the Gurney Drive today.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the project, costing an estimated RM200 million, would have several components which are divided into Priority One and Priority Two. The project is expected to be fully completed by 2025.
Priority One, he said, is basically a green park that would start from Pangkor Road and that would not require much physical building. It is estimated to be completed in 12 months.
Priority Two, which will have a multi-storey car park, an iconic hawker centre and a jetty waterfront among others, is expected to be completed in 24 months or slightly more, he said.
“Priority One and Priority Two will take place concurrently. The project is expected to be fully completed by 2025.
“The roof of the iconic hawker centre is a very challenging structure. We want to have an iconic product that will blend with the environment and promenade.
“When the consultant and architect run wild with ideas, the challenge is for the engineers to design, and the contractor to execute,” Chow told a press conference after the ground-breaking ceremony that was officiated by Penang Governor Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak.
He said the Gurney Wharf would be a big drawcard, attracting an even bigger crowd than the Esplanade seawall project that was packed with people after its official opening yesterday.
He said the project is in line with the Penang2030 vision of a ‘Family-Focused Green and Smart that Inspires the Nation.’
“The main intention of the state government is for the project to benefit and be enjoyed by the people of Penang from various age groups to carry out social and family activities.
“We hope that with a project like this, it can strengthen family ties and improve the quality of life and productivity of the locals.
“In the meantime, the state government also took note of the matters arising and I am sure the stakeholders in this project are aware of the situation, including ensuring the protection of the environment and the sea.
“It is hoped that when this project is completed, it will be another new attraction to the state as well as increase high quality added value, especially in contributing an economic spillover to the residents of the Gurney Drive and the people of Penang as a whole,” Chow said in his speech.
Chow said the state government understood the current challenging situation faced by the contractors due to the escalating material costs and would deal with the issue when the contractors highlight it to the state government.
Chow and state Housing, Local Government, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh said the decision to build the Gurney Wharf project began six years ago in 2016 when Lim Guan Eng was then the chief minister.
“When the project was mooted, there were quarters which were against it but when a survey was later conducted, 95% of respondents agreed to its implementation,” Jagdeep said in his speech.
“This project would have been completed by now if not for the delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it is going to happen.”
Jagdeep had previously said that among the facilities to be built under Priority One are a children’s playground, skate park, viewing deck (south vantage point), public toilets, pedestrian promenade, trader’s kiosks, recreational park, landscape areas and open space car parks.
Under Priority Two, the features include additional landscaping areas, more recreational parks, a hawker centre, a viewing deck (north vantage point), public toilets, more trader’s kiosks, multi-storey car parks, open space car parks, a beach area and boardwalk, water garden, and the drainage system.
Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Eastern & Oriental Berhad had already surrendered 131 acres of reclaimed land to the state for the project. About 40 acres of the land is earmarked for the public park.
Tun Ahmad Fuzi was later invited on stage to witness the presentation of the main contractor agreement by Chow to TETO Engineering Sdn Bhd director Mohd Harizuddin Salleh. The appointments of four sub-contractors for soft landscape, skate park and playground, marine engineering and steel roof works will be announced later.
Tun Ahmad Fuzi then proceeded to board a backhoe to launch the groundbreaking ceremony.
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman, Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy, former chief minister and Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng, State Secretary Datuk Dr Ahmad Jailani Muhamed Yunus, Deputy State Secretary Datuk Mohd Zakuan Zakaria, state executive councillor Soon Lip Chee, Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang, Chief Minister Incorporated deputy general manager S. Bharathi, several assemblymen and distinguished guests.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar
Video by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis