Special townhall session for controversial Penang highway project

Penang CM Chow Kon Yeow says another townhall will be held on Sept 30 on the transport master plan.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government will help the Department of Environment (DoE) organise a public forum on the proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway project next week.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said his government would help organise the townhall on the behest of the DoE, the federal environment regulator.

The forum, called “PIL Environment Impact Assessment Townhall Session”, will be held on Sept 20 at the Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Relau from 8pm to 10.30pm.

“In line with the administration’s principle of transparency and commitment to listen and to understand the rakyat, we wish to inform that we will hold a townhall to let the public share their concerns on the proposed project.

“The Penang government hereby commits to respond to all issues raised and these responses shall be forwarded to the DoE,” Chow said at a press conference in Komtar here today.

He said he would attend the townhall session and that Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin might also attend.

Chow said another townhall session on the larger Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) would be held, tentatively, on Sept 30. He said the details would be given to the public at a later date.

Penang is planning two major projects to alleviate congestion in the state through the RM46 billion PTMP and the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel, in which another three major roads will be built as well.

The PTMP will see a network of highways, a LRT line and other modes of public transport being built through the creation of three islands on the southern coast.

The 19.5km PIL 1 highway from Gurney Drive to the second bridge is part of the PTMP.

While the PIL 1 is not set in stone, it remains a proposal until it gets DoE’s approval. The DoE is currently awaiting feedback on the project from the public before deciding whether the project will take off.

DoE is obtaining feedback through the display of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) documents at select locations in the state and online, so that people can peruse them and send their objections, if any.

The last day for the feedback in writing to the DoE on the PIL 1 project is Sept 24.

For the three major roads project, DoE had given an approval for one of the roads last year, which will cut through the hills of Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang. This is despite objections from the residents nearby.

Construction of the said road, the North Coast Paired Road, has yet to begin as the Penang government has yet to sign a commencement of work order. The contractors have reportedly said they plan to begin next year.