Answering concern about Pan Island Link 1

This media statement responds to comments made in the following social media articles concerning the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) Highway and the Undersea Tunnel Project:

  • Najib Razak FB; Lebuhraya Pan Island Link 1 (PIL) adalah satu projek ketika Menteri Kewangan kita memegang jawatan Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang.
  • Escalation of PIL 1 Cost and the most expensive highway.
  • Concessionaire of Undersea Tunnel Project
  1. Penang State Government would like to categorically address the misconceptions and refute the erroneous statements contained in the articles. Being a conscientious and responsive Government that stands by the governance principle of Competency, Accountability and Transparency (CAT), the State is duty-bound to continuously and consistently correct all inaccuracies with regard to Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), especially on Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) which is the focus of contention in the articles.
    1. The latest article, debated as PIL 1 being an exorbitantly priced project is spiced with many factual errors which cannot be anything other than to confuse and misguide the public with the intention of swaying public support for the project.
    2. The most glaring is that of the Cost of PIL 1 which is said to have escalated from RM7.5 billion to RM9 billion which has been cooked-up and distorted without stating any factual basis, with the intention to mislead and divert public’s attention.
    3. The assertion that “PIL 1 is the most expensive highway to be built in history” is invalid and made with ill-intention.
    4. The cost that has been officially announced is RM7.5 Billion. PIL 1 cannot be compared to other highways as each highway is dissimilar in many ways. It is for this reason that the per KM cost of construction cannot be worked out on simple arithmetic as each highway has its own unique features which are needed to cater for the local conditions.
    5. Other considerations in calculating the cost are the unique engineering approach incorporated in this proposed highway due to site conditions, technical requirements and minimizing social & environmental impact.
    6. Of relevance here is that for PIL 1, of the 19.5km length, 7.6km is constructed elevated at a height of up to 31m and 10.1km of the highway are designed as tunnels. The remaining length will consist of embankments connecting the tunnels to the elevated structures.
    7. Unique features of PIL 1 highway encompasses the following;
      • Elevated dual 3 lane (6 lanes) highway consisting tunnel sections with approximately 40% of the total alignment length. To date, no such alignment configuration with a similar magnitude is constructed in Malaysia.
      • 250m span Cable Stayed bridge with a height clearance of 31m – to minimize social & environmental impact.
    8. We would also like to assert that PIL 1 work packages will be awarded via Open Tender for full transparency and equity.
    9. The funding is designed in such a way that no tax payers’ money will be utilized to fund the project, rather it will be fully funded through Penang South Reclamation (PSR), which is owned by the Penang State Government and not by any developer or contractor.
    10. The Penang State Government wishes to clarify that there is no cost escalation for the PIL 1 project, as alleged in the FB Post.
    11. Further efforts to compare costs between projects will only confuse the public, without taking into consideration other factors in a comprehensive manner as each project will have unique features that are dissimilar with the project it is compared against.
  2. PIL 1 Serving Penangites
    1. All PTMP projects are implemented based on open tender i.e. based on market rate at the time of implementation, and each bid is evaluated strictly based on pre-determined criterias. Hence, the issue of cost escalation does not arise.
    2. The main function of PIL 1 is to relieve the traffic congestion on the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Expressway (LCE). It is a known fact that traffic congestion in Penang is worsening by the day & the State Government is striving to resolve this issue via various proposals namely under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) for the Rakyat’s benefit.
    3. The benefits of PIL 1 are summarized as follows:
      • Forms a second North-South Spine road
      • To alleviate heavy traffic volume on LCE and adjacent arterial roads.
      • Six (6) Interchanges to link to highly populated areas and transport hubs on the island.
      • Shorten North-South travel time from 45mins to 15 mins
      • To improve the Level of Service (LOS) on existing local highways, particularly LCE, Jalan Tun Dr Awang and Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah
      • Open up opportunities for development in the Western and South-western parts of Penang Island
      • Cater to demand from airport and industrial zone expansion
      • An alternative to transfer traffic from 2nd Bridge and the Penang International Airport (PIA) to George Town and the Northern Coast area.
    4. PIL 1 is strategically linked via its 6 Interchanges to Gurney Expressway, the Undersea tunnel, the proposed North-South Expressway (NSE) Link (bypass) and the Second Bridge. Together they form the Greater Penang network.
  3. On claims of protests from Penangites, we would like to assert that from the Public Forums and Townhall Sessions, presided by The Right Hon Chief Minister of Penang, all comments, feedbacks and concerns from the public has been given due weightage.
    1. It was found that 80% supported the project, which is the silent majority.
    2. Technical experts have been called in at these Townhalls to address every concern raised by the NGOs and individuals who would not see the relevance of PIL 1. To date, the State has endeavoured to placate every demand from certain NGOs and groups, including organizing townhall sessions, public displays and open display of the RFP documents. This is in line with the State Government’s transparency and inclusive planning policy.
    3. The State views the protests from a loud minority as differences in opinion and aims to continuously and consistently engage with the fractions by bringing in independent experts to explain and enlighten where misconceptions are brewing.
  4. On the Reclamation Project (PSR): Allegations that the State Government had sold thousands of hectares of the reclaimed area is NOT TRUE.
    1. The State Government is the proprietor of the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project and will solely own the three islands.
    2. Land use on PSR is to be determined by the State Government where it has decided to allot 1,000 acres for the development of the industrial sector. The State Government has also decided to allot 30% of public housing on the reclaimed islands. 10% of the Island will be turned into recreational areas and will be open to the entire community.
    3. The State Government will choose the developers for PSR through an open tender process as practiced in developed countries including Singapore and Hong Kong. Funds from these tenders will be used for infrastructure development in Penang, including rail and highway construction.
    4. The system adopted by the State Government is one that is transparent and open in accordance with the principle of CAT (Competency, Accountability, Transparency) and aims to benefit the whole community of Penang.
  5. On the bridging soft-loan, it was requested by the State Government from the Federal Government to kick-start Phase 1 of PTMP.
    1. . This is specified in the RFP as the funding method. To justify the need for the loan, in the event the loan is obtained, both the LRT & PIL 1 projects can be implemented concurrently.
    2. Otherwise, each project may only commence upon completion of the priority projects (PSR, LRT and finally PIL 1 under Phase 1 of PTMP).
    3. To reiterate, the soft loan will allow for all priority components to be completed simultaneously for the Rakyat to enjoy the benefits as soon as possible.
    4. As the term ‘loan’ suggests, it is repayable and will be done so from funds generated through PSR and tax payers will not be burdened with commitment to service the loan from the Federal Government.
  6. Concessionaire of Undersea Tunnel Project
    1. Demarcating whole area of Sri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP 2) implying to the public to think that the whole area will be “bestowed” (dianugerahkan) to the concessionaire company. This is MISLEADING and not supported by factual data.
    2. As mentioned earlier, PIL 1 was planned in a manner to strategically integrate the proposed NSE bypass link, 1st and 2nd Bridge and the existing LCE expressway. These networks are planned to function as an efficient traffic dispersal.
    3. On the claims related to the proposed Undersea Tunnel as the Third Link:
      1. Construction works for the Tunnel have not started, therefore no payment was ever paid by the Penang State Government via land to the concessionaire company.
      2. The tunnel project does not cost RM6.3bil. as claimed. RM6.3bil is the cost for feasibility studies, detail design and construction of 3 Major Roads and Undersea Tunnel which comprises total of four (4) packages.
      3. Reports related to the 3 Major Roads were already completed in January 2016. This information which was widely reported by the media is easily available in the public domain. It is a blatant lie that no reports were completed after 6 years since the project was first awarded.
      4. To date, the Penang State Government has yet to pay for the feasibility studies of the Undersea Tunnel as the report yet to be finalized. The report for the proposed Undersea Tunnel is currently under review by ICE (Independent Checker Engineer) appointed by the State Government. Thus, it is incorrect to claim that that the Penang State Government has paid a total of RM305m to the concessionaire company until the report has been finalized and approved.

Conclusion

  1. As mentioned in the State Government’s Statement on PIL 1 dated 7 August 2018, the stand remains as we continue to value all comments and concerns received and each suggestion will be taken into consideration in fine-tuning the PIL 1 alignment for the benefit of all.
  2. Lastly, we would like to once again state that we are steadfast in upholding the CAT principle in implementing the PTMP that will further improve the lives of all Penangites and our future generation.
  3. The points raised in the social media posts have been addressed on various platforms. The repeated misrepresentations, each time driving farther away from the truth and facts, is clearly an attempt to mislead the public.
Chow Kon Yeow
Penang Chief Minister
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT OF PENANG ON 13 Feb 2019