Don’t sign mega project agreements; prepare transport masterplan instead, Penang CM urged

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Many Penangites believe that the monorail and the proposed second Penang bridge as currently designed were proposed with a view to achieving large profits for politically connected KL-based firms. A dozen leading Penang-based civil society groups have now released an urgent letter to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, calling on him not to sign agreements for such mega projects until a proper transport master-plan is prepared.

A TRANSPORT MASTER PLAN FOR PENANG

– A LETTER TO THE CHIEF MINISTER

[PRESS STATEMENT FROM PENANG BASED NGO’S]

Dear CM,

It is with urgency and concern that we read of your statements that are planning on signing agreements with the Federal Government whereby large infrastructure projects such as the 2nd link and the monorail will proceed as planned by the last State Government.

Much as we are in favour of further expanding public transportation we urge a deferment on engaging in these agreements UNTIL A TRANSPORT MASTER-PLAN IS PREPARED.

This is because of the following reasons:

  1. Many Penangites believe that the Monorail and 2nd Link as currently designed, were proposed with a view to achieving large profits for politically connected K.L. companies
  2. Thus, we believe that the above projects particularly the Monorail, are neither the most suitable nor the most sustainable for Penang
  3. We believe that NO massive transportation mode requiring massive permanent infrastructure should be implemented without proper study and a Transport Master Plan prepared
  4. We believe that the 2nd bridge link should be a rail link or at least should incorporate a rail link
  5. We believe that RapidPenang bus services as well as the Ferry Services can be further expanded so as to reduce dependency on private vehicles
  6. We urge strict enforcement on illegal obstructions and parking so as to ease Public Transportation movement
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There are many other alternatives besides the large, ugly, intrusive overhead Monorail system. Many of these are cheaper, more sustainable and more suitable for Penang with our heritage city and our tree lined roads, of which we are so rightfully proud. There are modern trams, as used in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and recently introduced in Paris, Nottingham, Manchester and 5 other British cities. Trams were used by cities throughout the world including Penang until phased out by the increase of motorcars. Now cars are proving to be a problem, trams are again being viewed as the answer. There is the O-Bahn bus & rail link of Adelaide and many German cities, hailed as among the best of sustainable public transportation for cities of our moderate size. These are but 2 of many other alternatives to the Monorail and should be fully investigated.

The earlier proposal by the last government for PORR, the Penang Outer Ring Road, should also be re-assessed, in the Transport Master Plan. Delays have made the PORR completely out-of-date and totally limited in its future usefulness. As many other cities have discovered, the creation of new roads only postpones traffic problems very temporarily, and often merely encourages more private car usage.

The State Government should appoint a professional group as quickly as possible to prepare this Transport Master Plan for Penang. Consultants involved should not have vested interests in private development projects. A State Transport Authority under your chairmanship should also be set up to decide on broad policy directions. With a clear brief on what is best for Penang, the chosen transportation mode can then be offered for open tender, as you have advocated. This is surely preferable to vendors coming to ‘offer’ their particular system to Penang.

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WE carefully study what’s BEST FOR US. WE decide on what’s BEST FOR US. WE then tender and implement what’s BEST FOR US. This is surely the only logical and rational way to go about solving our traffic woes. We should not let vendors determine what transport mode we adopt.

We cannot be too strong in our appeal for a well-balanced, well-considered and well-advised approach to this very crucial issue for Penang.

We remain, as always, in the service of Penang:

CITIZENS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT (CEPAT)
BUG (BUS USERS GROUP)
PENANG HERITAGE TRUST (PHT)
ALIRAN
MALAYSIAN NATURE SOCIETY (MNS)
SAHABAT ALAM MALAYSIA (SAM)
CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION OF PENANG (CAP)
SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA (SUARAM)
JESSELTON HEIGHTS RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
TANJUNG BUNGAH RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
BADAN WARISAN MALAYSIA
FRIENDS OF THE PENANG BOTANIC GARDENS

22 May 2008

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