Penang revives plan to reclaim land off Butterworth coastline

Penang state secretary Farizan Darus (second from left) with RCSB director Ronnie Lim (second from right), Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (middle), state exco Soon Lip Chee (right) and state financial officer Sarul Bahiyah Abu (left).

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today revived a plan to reclaim the shorefront of Pantai Bersih which had been delayed for nearly 20 years, through an updated agreement with a company which said it would take nearly RM2 billion to do so in six years.

Rayston Consortium (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd (RCSB) was given the rights to reclaim 650ha of the Butterworth shorefront, directly facing George Town, in 1999 but the plan never took off due to “uncertainties”.

Under the new agreement today, RCSB and the Penang government will come up with a reclamation master plan where they will decide what to build on the land.

The shoreline from Jalan Tunku Putra in Telok Ayer Tawar in the north to the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) will be reclaimed.

The government also confirmed that the undersea tunnel project would see its exit portal built on the reclaimed portion. Feasibility studies are still being conducted on the tunnel.

If the reclamation project is approved by environmental regulators, the reclaimed portion will bring George Town and Butterworth closer, narrowing the North Channel.

In 1999, RCSB was given the right to reclaim as part of its work to relocate some 1,000 squatters along the path of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR), a 14km tolled expressway built by the federal government, between 2003 and 2006.

RCSB is also part of the consortium that built BORR, along with Etika Gemilang (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd.

Under a supplementary agreement signed between RCSB and the Penang government today, the company will surrender more of the reclaimed portion to the state.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said with the latest agreement, the state government would receive 90.31ha compared with 12.9ha in the original agreement.

“As per the agreement signed on June 16, 1999, RCSB has been given the rights to reclaim 650ha of land, with 243ha for Penang Port, 2.5ha for the state government for low-cost and low-medium cost homes, and 7.5ha in lieu of two plots of land given up by the state government on Jalan Pantai Bersih and Jalan Bagan Jermal to relocate residents.

“RCSB was also required to surrender 5% of its net saleable area, equivalent to 12.9ha, to the state. After negotiations, RCSB has agreed to increase that number to 35%, which means we will receive an additional 77.41ha of reclaimed land,” he said.

The agreement also included the surrendering of land after six years from the commencement of works, the transfer of rights to reclaim land near the port to a third party, and a comprehensive land reclamation plan to be submitted to the local authorities.

The agreement was signed between Penang state secretary Farizan Darus and RCSB director Ronnie Lim.

In clarifying the terms agreed, Farizan said RCSB had six months to apply for planning permission from the local authorities and submit relevant environmental impact assessment documents to the Department of Environment.