2nd Penang Bridge project right on schedule

The second Penang bridge will be completed in 2011 as scheduled, and the cost will be RM4.5bil.

UEM Group Berhad managing director and chief executive officer Ahmad Pardas Senin said the commonly quoted figure of RM3.6bil was only for the cost of the construction of the bridge over water.

This did not take into account the RM900mil needed to construct the 7km expressway linking it to the North South Expressway.

He explained that there was a price fluctuation clause to account for price changes in building materials and it did not necessarily mean that the final cost would be higher than the estimate because the clause took into consideration prices of building materials going up or down.

Ahmad Pardas said he believed that without the fluctuation clause, no organisation would be willing to start any construction because it would definitely be running at a loss.

“We are committed to completing the job by the end of 2011,” he told a press conference at the project site office here, after a site visit with the media yesterday.

He said the cost of building the bridge now stood at RM4.585bil, including RM285mil in development cost.

“The price of steel has increased by 60% and while fuel went up by 40%. The cost of building the bridge has only gone up by 10.4%,” he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had last month asked the Federal Government to explain why the cost of the second Penang bridge project had ballooned from RM2.7bil to RM4.5bil within a year, saying that an explanation was necessary because Penangites would eventually have to bear the expense through toll rates.

Ahmad Pardas clarified that the original cost for the whole project was RM3.6bil and not RM2.7bil as reported in the media.

He said work to build the bridge had not stopped since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony in November 2006.

The project is undertaken by UEM and Chinese Harbour Engineering Company, which holds a 51% stake and the rest by UEM.

Ahmad Pardas said UEM would spend RM57mil to acquire about 113ha of land belonging to individuals and the Penang Development Corporation for the project. - By The Star

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