IN a span of one year or so following the change of government at Putrajaya, Penang has seen four crucial infrastructure projects derailed.
Despite the setback, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is undeterred, saying the Penang government would look into other means to make it happen as all the projects are truly important for the growth of the state.
They are the Penang Hill cable car project, Penang International Airport expansion project, Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT) project and the iconic Penang ferry service.
As for the cable car project, Chow said the Penang government, through Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), is expected to call for a Request for Proposal (RFP) as early as next week.
“The project will be implemented with the cooperation of the private sector through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“The call for the RFP is a much-needed resort after the current Ministry of Finance under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) decided not to continue with the application by the Penang government,” Chow said during a press conference at Wisma DAP in Jalan Rangoon, George Town.
The Finance Ministry through a letter dated April 3, 2020, stated that the application was not considered by the ministry and cannot be continued.
Former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had previously announced a RM100 million allocation for the development of the cable car system on Penang Hill when he tabled the Budget 2020 in October 2019.
As for the Penang International Airport expansion project, Chow reiterated that the Transport Ministry should consider excluding PIA from the National Strategic Plan (NASP) as the project was approved beforehand.
“The RM800 million project is truly crucial as it will help upgrade the airport capacity of 6.5 million passengers per annum to 12 million passengers per annum,” Chow added.
The Transport Ministry had previously announced that no new airport developments and expansions would take place until the NASP study is completed in 2023.
On the Bayan Lepas Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, Chow said the Penang government has to restructure the financial planning of the project after the Federal Government had recently decided not to grant a loan guarantee to finance the project.
“Since it has been withdrawn, and as I have mentioned before, we won’t give up but will look into other financial options to carry out this project.
“During this trying period of Covid-19 pandemic, projects like this will in fact help further boost not only the state’s economy, but the nation’s too,” Chow added.
Chow’s remarks came following a recent announcement by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz that the Federal Government opted out a government guarantee for RM2 billion loan application for Penang to partially finance the RM9.5 billion LRT project.
On a more recent issue about the Penang ferry service, Chow said state executive councillor Zairil Khir Johari, who is in charge of the Transport and Infrastructure portfolio, would hold a powwow with the Transport Ministry to discuss the Penang government’s stand to maintain the current iconic ferry service.
Separately at the press conference, Penang DAP members launched a mass signature campaign to encourage Penangites to show support towards the Penang government’s efforts to reinstate the four infrastructure projects.
Guan Eng, who is also the DAP secretary-general, commended the state-level party members for such an initiative as it is important to let the people know about the importance of all four projects.
“We hope through this initiative, there will be a change. At the end of the day, these projects are only for the benefit of the people,” Lim said.
Also present were state Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee, Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng, Sungai Pinang assemblyman Lim Siew Khim and state DAP publicity secretary Steven Sim, who is also Bukit Mertajam MP.
Story by Kevin Vimal
Pix by Chan Kok Kuan
Video by Alvie Cheng