GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota) told the Penang assembly today that the three reclaimed islands project is still needed although there is still land available in Batu Kawan, as suggested by a backbencher.
He said, in reality, however, nearly all of the 2,900 acres (1,173ha) of state-owned land in Batu Kawan had been taken up by investors and the demand for land had not abated.
Chow said the three reclaimed islands, officially known as the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, would cater to that demand.
He said the cache of land in Batu Kawan would have been fully taken up by the time “Island A”, the first of the three islands to be created, was completed in “eight to 10 years”.
“We have to auction off Island A to fund our infrastructure projects. It will take eight to 10 years to reclaim Island A.
“I know I am not supposed to say this, but we have very little left from our 2,900-acre landbank in Batu Kawan, as an industrial boom is ongoing there.
“We have about 200 acres left and we expect that, too, to finish by next year,” he said.
Chow was responding to a question by Goh Choon Aik (PKR-Bukit Tambun), who had asked if the state government would consider selling land on Batu Kawan instead of reclaiming three islands to finance the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
Chow said Island A, which would be 2,300 acres (930ha), would first be reclaimed before the other two islands, once approval was obtained.
The other two islands measure 1,400 acres (Island B) and 800 acres (Island C). All three islands will cover 4,500 acres (1,821ha).
He said, overall, all the three islands would be reclaimed in the next “15 to 20 years”.
The PTMP is a RM46 billion plan to build highways, rail lines and other modes of public transport over the next 20 to 30 years.
It will be financed by auctioning the land on the yet-to-be-reclaimed three islands to the highest bidder.
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Chow also provided detailed data on how much land the Penang government owned in Batu Kawan. He said it owned 2,946 acres, slated for mixed development, an industrial park and affordable home projects.
Chow said the state also owned Penang Science Park (South), covering an area of 173.9, acres, for industrial purposes.
He said more recently, his government had acquired East Batu Kawan (622.6 acres) and land on the Byram Estate (782.7 acres).
“This new acquisition is to facilitate a new industrial corridor after Bayan Lepas and Mak Mandin,” he said.
Chow also hinted that Batu Kawan could soon see branches of the national heart and cancer institutes. He said talks were ongoing with the National Heart Institute and National Cancer Institute.
Also, three other private healthcare providers are eager to invest in the medical hub in Batu Kawan.
Chow said he could not reveal more about the private healthcare providers as negotiations were ongoing.
He was responding to Goh’s question if it was true that the “national health institutes” would open in Batu Kawan and an “international health hub” would be established there as well.