Major road cutting through Penang suburb catches residents unawares

Tan Wei Loon (right, standing) at a forum on the three main roads project by CZC at the Karpal Singh Learning Centre at Bukit Gelugor, Penang, last year.

GEORGE TOWN: A group of residents at a housing area in Green Lane here today claimed they are unaware that a major elevated road would be built through their neighbourhood come Merdeka Day.

The 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass road, as part of the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel and three-roads project, will begin construction on Aug 31.

It will be undertaken by Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC).

Tan Wei Loon, a resident of Island Glades, said it appeared that he was the only person among a few others to be aware of such a highway being built in the area.

He said he realised this when he raised this matter with his neighbours.

He said many were dumbfounded as they were not given a chance to object to it. He claims at least 1,000 people in the area, next to the road’s alignment were not aware of the new road.

“The larger Green Lane area has a population of hundreds of thousands of people, with a majority of them unaware of the seriousness or how this road will affect them.

“Engagement with the affected residents, or social impact sampling, was below 0.01%,” he said when contacted.

Tan claimed only five people had attended an engagement session by the builders in 2014. He asked why more people were not told about this session.

He said while they were not against development, the major concern was the way it would be built.

He said based on the builder’s route, the road would encircle hills where a few condominium complexes are situated.

Tan said besides cutting through the hill, giant flyovers would also dwarf the terraced houses.

“We have seen rocks rolling down these hills during bad weather. With this new road, I am scared to imagine what would happen,” the resident of 11 years said.

Previous news reports had indicated that the highway will cross the dense Green Lane neighbourhood from Air Itam.

It will pass the following apartments there: Kingfisher, Jay Series, Greenlane Heights, Greenlane Park, Delima Palace and Krystal Heights. It will also pass by landed properties at Changkat Delima 3.

It was also reported that these roads could be as close as 30m and at the most, 100m away.

Six-metre-high sound barriers would be installed along areas close to highrises (link).

CZC had said a total of 20,497 soil nails and 570 drains would be placed along the hill stretch for greater stability.

The project was approved by the Department of Environment in 2017, with 59 conditions.

Citizen Awareness Chant Group adviser Yan Lee has called for these conditions to be revealed for transparency.

FMT has contacted CZC for comment and is awaiting its reply.