Green light for transport plan

Chow briefing reporters on the progress of the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) projects.

Penangites have generally given the thumbs up for the proposed RM27bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) projects, according to a state exco member.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state government had received an overall positive response after nearly nine months of proactively reaching out to relevant stakeholders for feedback on the two projects.

He said that from the 14 briefings held to date, 13 garnered resounding support for the projects.

He said the engagement sessions were conducted at several locations across the state,involving audiences from government agencies, business associations, professional bodies, non-governmental organisations, the media and members of the public.

“Based on the overall positive response, Penangites welcome the implementation of the projects which are expected to mitigate the worsening traffic congestion in Penang, provide more affordable housing and create sustainable economic growth.

“However, the fishermen community in the south coast remain concerned on the proposed reclamation as they are worried it could impact their income,” Chow told a press conference in Komtar on Friday.

Among the components of the PTMP are trams, monorail, light rail transit lines, e-bus, bus rapid transit, a pan-island expressway, a catamaran system and a RM100mil highway interchange upgrading project.

Three islands, of 930ha, 566ha and 323ha in size, are proposed to be created off the south of Penang island under the PSR to fund the PTMP.

Chow said project consultants appointed to carry out the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA), Heritage Impact Assessment and Fisheries Impact Assessment studies had also concurrently carried out focus group discussions and case interviews with stakeholders along the Bayan Lepas LRT and Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 Highway alignments and the affected fishing villages.

“So far, a total of 44 group discussions and case interviews were held and the overall response has been favourable.

“Complementing the engagement efforts, the appointed Project Delivery Partner (PDP) of the PTMP, SRS Consortium, had also been actively engaging various stakeholders on behalf of the state government.

“The PDP has to date conducted 220 engagement briefings involving different audiences for the PTMP, PSR and the fishing community,” Chow said.

He said measures proposed to help the fishing community include building four new fisherman wharves and jetties at Permatang Damar Laut, Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu and Gertak Sanggul, and setting up of a one-stop service centre with amenities to cater for boat repairs, among other functions.

“One of the main objectives in engaging the fishing community is to understand the concerns of the fishermen, and to develop appropriate measures to minimise the projects’ impact on them.

“While more engagement and briefing sessions will be held in the coming months, job registration forms were shared with local fishermen and residents from affected villages who will be prioritised for suitable job openings when the projects commence.

“Some fishermen have expressed interest, and we hope more will register soon as some of the works start as early as 2017. This is one way to ensure stable income for the fishermen in the coming years,” Chow said.

He said SRS Consortium was exploring collaboration avenues with a vocational college to provide relevant courses catered for the respective job openings for fishermen who require training and skills enhancement.

“Those who complete their courses will be certified by the college and will be able to work either for the Bayan Lepas LRT, PIL 1 Highway or PSR project.

“In line with the state’s commitment to provide a highly liveable environment and quality housing for the entire income spectrum, a total of 24,000 units of affordable homes will be built on the future reclaimed lands.

“The proposed reclaimed land under the PSR project will offer affordable housing for lower income groups, including eligible fishermen. The PDP will submit the railway scheme for the Bayan Lepas LRT by next month to the Land Public Transport Commission, with conditional approval expected by June,” he added.

Chow also said the DEIA study for the Bayan Lepas LRT was expected to be completed and submitted to the Department of Environment by mid-2016, after which a three-month public display process will follow.

“Those who did not manage to attend previous engagements will be able to share their views and comments during this period.

“More engagements with business groups, NGOs, the media and local residents will be held in the coming months.

“The state government will be launching the official PTMP website by the end of the month which would serve as a one-stop information source and to assist the public to obtain latest updates on the transport master plan,” he added. - The Star

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