THE Federal Government and the Penang government would meet in a week or two to discuss a scheme by the Federal Government which would enable Penang to have its first Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim broke the good news during the Jelajah Rumah Terbuka Madani to mark the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration this year.
“The allocation is huge and needs the support from the Federal Government. We will come up with a scheme to ensure that the state government can expedite the implementation of LRT in Penang.
“The traffic situation in Penang is bad,” he said at the open house in UiTM Permatang Pauh today.
Anwar said he listened to some complaints about the Penang South Islands (PSI) project.
“Not all of them are true. The state government has done and taken steps to assure the fishermen, and to address erosion matters, among others.
“I see that the main issue was the past Federal Government failed to provide sufficient funds to the state, especially for the development of infrastructure in Penang. And, it is a pressing matter,” he said.
“With this announcement, I hope that the Penang government will review and reduce the scope of the PSI project,” Anwar added.
Later at the media conference, Transport Minister Anthony Loke affirmed that the Federal Government, in principle, has agreed to fund the LRT project.
“The Federal Government, in principle, has agreed to implement the LRT project in Penang.
“However, the financing model and mechanism will be discussed and finalised later,” Loke said. He gave a few possibilities such as the development fund, and off-budget, among others.
He said the decision has alleviated the financial burden of the Penang government of having to get funds to implement the LRT project.
Loke stressed that the Federal Government would only be involved in the implementation of the LRT project in Penang and not the PSI.
“When the Federal Government takes over the implementation of the LRT project in Penang, it will only use whatever past reports done by the state government as reference.
“The Federal Government is not tied to any report. I want to be very clear on this,” he said.
Loke said the Federal Government considered the state’s priority for the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT project.
“The Federal Government agreed in principle that the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT project is the state’s priority and that will be the first alignment.
“However, the detailed alignment and implementation will be viewed and finalised according to the Federal’s consideration,” he added.
Loke also said that the implementation of the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT project must be implemented fast.
“Initially, the LRT depot was proposed to be set up at the Silicon Island of the PSI project.
“We will look at the possibility that the LRT depot be built on Penang island itself, and not on Silicon Island,” he said.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the announcement by Anwar was the best 2023 Hari Raya gift for Penang.
“This was the awaited news for Penangites.
“The proposed LRT project’s railway scheme has received conditional approval because of its LRT depot on Silicon Island, which has not been reclaimed,” he said.
Chow added that the Penang government brought up two priority projects to the Prime Minister last month.
“The two projects are the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT and the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme (SPRWTS).
“The state chose the LRT project because it has put in about 10 years of effort, notwithstanding various objections, criticisms, and others.
“We have done all the necessary works, including the discussions with MRT Corp after meeting the Prime Minister,” he said.
Representing the Penangites, Chow thanked the Federal Government, the Prime Minister, and the Transport Minister for their concerns towards the proposed project.
“We have gone through tedious processes, withstanding pressure from rakyat who wanted the LRT project to be implemented as soon as possible and (some) non-governmental organisations which think otherwise,” Chow said.
He added that the state would discuss with SRS Consortium to reach a good solution following this latest development.
“The Prime Minister has requested us to consider scaling down the PSI reclamation project.
“According to the initial plan, the surplus from Silicon Island will not be a lot, or able to accommodate the cost of the LRT project. And that is why we need to also reclaim Islands B and C.
“Nevertheless, we will discuss with the project delivery partner to come up with the best solution to the matter,” Chow said.
Silicon Island will consist of a Green Tech Park and other components.
Silicon Island is one of the three islands under the PSI project which will be located at the south end of Penang island, measuring a total of 4,500 acres in land size. It will be 2,300 acres in size, Island B 1,400 acres and Island C 800 acres. The PSI project has recently received the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Department of Environment (DoE) with 71 conditions.
Silicon Island’s master plan has successfully obtained a ‘5 Diamonds’ recognition for the Design Category from the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) in the Low Carbon Cities 2030 Challenge. Various green initiatives will be developed on Silicon Island to reduce carbon production by up to 45%.
Among them are to allocate 405 acres of land for the development of public parks, wetlands, floodplains, and bioswales; to plant and grow mangrove forest which has the potential to become a popular recreational area for locals and tourists; to construct water canals and create a blue-green network that enables the implementation of water taxi transport; a 100% usage of renewable energy at GTP; to implement green mobility by creating 110km of bicycle and pedestrian network; to encourage the use of public transport powered by electricity through the implementation of light rail transit (LRT) and electric bus services; and to construct ‘super low-energy’ buildings equipped with efficient cooling systems and smart features.
Others include implementing sustainable urban planning with climate-responsive design and green characteristics; implementing a dual-function sewage treatment plant, rainwater harvesting, and instal water-saving devices; and implementing recycling programmes, food composting and decomposing processes to reduce wastes in landfills.
Penang Governor Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak and Toh Puan Khadijah Mohd Nor graced the auspicious Jelajah Rumah Terbuka Madani event.
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Federal ministers and state executive council members, and other dignitaries.
It is believed that some 18,000 people thronged the event.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad
Video by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi