The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the Penang state government not to sign the new project delivery partner agreement with SRS Consortium for the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) as the PTMP is heavily contentious and criticised by many civil society organisations due to its adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts.
SRS Consortium is a 60:20:20 joint venture among Gamuda, Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd. It was reported by the media that when SRS Consortium first signed a project delivery partner agreement with the Penang government in 2015, its role as a partner was to help the state government implement the PTMP. The Penang South Reclamation project was mooted by SRS to create a land bank to fund the multi-billion-ringgit PTMP.
In recent years, the state government had expanded the project scope of the PTMP, and thus in formalising the latest plans, the Penang government will need to sign a new agreement with SRS Consortium. Recently, Gamuda group managing director Lin Yun Ling said that once the new agreement is signed, the design works can start. “The light rail transit, Island A, the Pan Island Link and reclamation work for South Island will all move,” he was reported saying.
Penang Forum and several academicians had pointed out to the Penang government that cheaper, better, viable options for the PTMP are available. This option does not require building new roads or the elevated light rail.
The alternative PTMP proposed by NGOs incorporates a good network of autonomous rail rapid transit (ART) and bus rapid transit, supported by feeder systems to address first and last-mile connectivity. CAP had written to the chief minister to seriously consider these options. However, the state has not yet responded why it is selecting a more expensive, potentially destructive option when a cheaper, better, faster-to-implement alternative exists.
The state is not considering the views of the public, fishermen communities and NGOs objecting to the “Penang South Reclamation” project. We had also raised our objections during the public hearing of the draft Penang Structure Plan 2030, which included the “Penang South Islands” project, other reclamation projects and the new highways.
It is indeed very disappointing that CAP’s and many other groups’ objections were not taken into account and the state went on to gazette the structure plan on 24 October. The government needs to also consider that a case has been filed to contend the approval of the environmental impact assessment report of the Penang South Reclamation-Rev 2.
The Penang government should be going on an austerity drive by reviewing the PTMP projects to cut costs and consider alternatives, besides scrapping all proposed reclamation, luxury and mega projects. Do not forsake Penang’s environment and people in pursuit of development proposed by developers whose main concern is profits.
Mohideen Abdul Kader is president of the Consumers Association of Penang.