Tunnel project not a priority now, says Penang CM

Chow Kon Yeow and Majimor Shariff, wife of Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri Abdul Rahman Abbas, at the launch of the state-level 2019 National Day celebrations. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The feasibility study for the Penang undersea tunnel project is still not ready as it is now only 90% completed, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

However, he said the tunnel is not a priority.

“The priority is for the highway from Air Itam to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Highway. We hope to start that in two months,” he said.

Chow said at the moment, the draft report on the tunnel is still being examined by independent consultant engineers appointed by HSS Engineers Bhd.

“Once everything is cleared from the consultant’s part, it will be submitted to the state government for approval.

“It is always a to-and-fro process. Once they (Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd) submit to HSS, HSS will review and comment before it is given back to them to improve.

“It is 90% completed and the state has been progressively receiving updates,” he told reporters after attending a 2019 National Day celebration ceremony here by Majimor Shariff, wife of Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri Abdul Rahman Abbas.

The planned 7.2km-long tunnel, linking Persiaran Gurney to Bagan Ajam in Seberang Perai, comes under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The PTMP, costing RM46 billion, is an initiative by the state government, encompassing the undersea tunnel connecting the island to the mainland, highways, LRT, monorail, as well as a comprehensive network of bus routes covering parts of the island and the mainland.

Meanwhile, when asked about the statement of Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook recently on a commitment to upgrade the Penang ferry service, including a plan to introduce a catamaran service to complement the tunnel, Chow said no decision had been made at the moment.

“There was no other decision except for a feasibility study to be done.”

On a report in a Chinese daily on the difference in prices between a new CBU Toyota Camry bought by the Penang government for its executive councillors and those bought for Perak excos, Chow said Penang was not given tax exemption.

“There is no tax exemption. So, we bought them at the market price. Perak may have obtained it (tax exemption). That is why the price is different,” he said.