This Consumers Association of Penang statement is in response to the Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s claim that the Mount Erskine underpass is the best option to solve traffic woes as reported in the Star, 8 November 2019.
We offer five reasons why not only is it not the best option but even more so it is a waste of ratepayers’ money and should be scrapped.
1. Traffic flow good most of the time
This project is not a priority as traffic flow at this junction is good most of the time, except during morning peak hours. Even then, the waiting time going to Burmah Road is less than 10 minutes.
2. Traffic nightmare during construction period
The project will create a massive traffic nightmare for at least two years or more (during the construction period) as all residents in the north will have only one road – Tanjong Tokong Road – to travel to town and back.
Has the Penang Island City Council taken this into account? Has the council done a detailed traffic simulation study of this problem? If so, please make it public. This “solution” is akin to cutting your nose to spite your face.
3. Moving the congestion 1km down the road?
Assuming traffic flows smoothly under Jalan Gottlieb via the underpass, would traffic not hit congestion again when cars emerge from the underpass onto Jalan Burmah and Pulau Tikus? Why spend RM55m just to move the traffic jam 1km down the road?
4. Why pay millions when there are simpler cost-effective solutions
The cost of this project has more than doubled to RM55m and possibly higher due to land acquisition compensation to about 20 landowners who will receive over RM20m. Why pay out millions of ringgit at the expense of all ratepayers in Penang for unwarranted projects when simpler cost-effective solutions that will not destroy the surrounding above-ground community are well on hand?
5. Cancelling this project could reduce assessment rate hikes
The council is expected to raise RM54m from its proposed assessment rate increases. By cancelling this project, the council could save RM55m and reduce its proposed assessment rate increase to benefit all ratepayers.
The council should not waste ratepayers’ money on bad solutions to traffic congestion.
What is needed is better management of the traffic light system and stricter enforcement against congestion caused during school opening and closing hours which will cost next to nothing.