GEORGE TOWN: The RM305 million cost to undertake a study on the 7.2km Penang undersea tunnel and paired roads project is reasonable, says State Executive Councillor Lim Hock Seng.
“This cost is not just for feasibility studies, but also detailed designs and environmental impact assessment. It is only 5.5% of the total cost of the project.
“We are an open book and if federal minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan wants, he can inspect them through our Freedom of Information Act,” he said at a press conference today.
Lim was responding to the “Seven Questions” raised by Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director Abdul Rahman Dahlan last Friday on the tunnel and paired roads project. Lim provided reporters a seven-page rebuttal to the questions.
Lim said tunnel builders Konsortium Zenith-BUCG (Zenith-BUCG) had won the contract for the study, beating 60 other companies.
The workings of the study and other cost matters were also audited by independent consultant engineers.
Lim said out of the total RM6.3 billion cost of the project, RM305 million was for the feasibility study, detailed design and environmental impact studies, RM540 million was for land acquisition and RM5.5 billion was for construction.
Lim said the cost of the study on the three paired road projects was RM31.2 million and for the tunnel, RM20 million.
All the work related to the feasibility study are 83% completed, Lim added.
Rahman had earlier accused the Penang Government of allowing the project contractor to profit through a 30-year road toll and the sale of lucrative reclaimed waterfront land worth RM6.3 billion.
Rahman, who is also minister for urban wellbeing and housing, had said the true cost of the projects could reach RM20 billion.
Lim however said the RM6.3 billion value for the land was the future pricing as prices would appreciate with time.
“The Penang Government knows the land was valued at RM457 per square feet by the Finance Ministry’s Valuation and Property Management division in 2014.
“The consortium is building a RM6.3 billion project. So we gave 110 acres of land which would cost that much in the years to come.”
On the 30-year concession to Zenith-BUCG to collect tolls from the tunnel, Lim said this was necessary to avoid losses from other island-mainland crossings.
“The tolls will also offset the negative impact from users of the second bridge. The toll will most likely match that of the second bridge.”
The tunnel will be built at least 20 metres below the seabed. The four-lane 7.2km-long tunnel is expected to completed by 2025.
Zenith-BUCG is a joint venture consortium between Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd and China Railway Construction Co Ltd, together with Beijing Urban Construction Group, Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd and Juteras Sdn Bhd.
The project is part of the RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which aims to build a network of new roads and public transport lines.