Final feasibility report for undersea tunnel not ready, says Penang CM

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (second from left) witnessing the handing over a donation by Eastern and Oriental Berhad group corporate strategy director Lyn Chai to Penang Chinese Clan Council chairman Yeap Beow Cheong for the Chinese New Year temple celebrations.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today said it has yet to receive the final official report on the feasibility of the proposed 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting George Town and Butterworth.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said even if the contractors had completed the report, it had to be perused by independent checking engineers (ICE).

He confirmed that HSS Engineering had been appointed to represent the government to vet the technical designs.

He was responding to a question on a news report saying the feasibility study for the project had been completed and was due to be announced in March.

The report also said that two options were on the table – to build an over-the-sea bridge or an undersea tunnel as per the original plans.

The tunnel’s feasibility study had hogged the headlines over the past few years as Penang’s opposition parties continued to question its RM305 million cost, and the time it took to complete the report.

Former works minister Fadillah Yusof had also questioned the cost, calling it too expensive.

The contractors later replied that the price included the feasibility study for the tunnel and three roads, which professional engineering bodies said was “reasonable and competitive”.

The report was said to be 80% complete in 2017 and over 95% last year.

The project was awarded to Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd through an open tender by the Penang government in 2013.

The undersea tunnel will connect George Town’s Jalan Pangkor with Bagan Ajam in Butterworth. It will be built at least 20m below the seabed.

The three main roads are from Air Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km), Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km) and the Jalan Pangkor-Gurney Drive junction to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (4.1km).

Earlier, Chow received donations for the “miao hui” (Chinese New Year) temple celebrations amounting to RM300,000 from private companies, including Eastern and Oriental Berhad, NV Alliance, and Hanwellness.

The festival organised annually by the Penang Chinese Clan Council, will be held at the George Town World Heritage Site on Feb 9.