GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today said reports claiming that only RM20,000 in compensation would be paid to fishermen affected by the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project were “inaccurate” and had tarnished the state’s reputation.
This came after Penang Fishermen’s Association (Pen Mutiara) chief Mahadi Md Rodzi told Bernama that the compensation sum offered was “too little” compared to the cost of reclaiming three islands as part of the RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan.
Deputy chief minister Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman said the report did not give a fuller picture of what was being discussed between the state and the fishermen.
He also said the sum mentioned by Pen Mutiara was the ex gratia payment and not the compensatory payouts, which were still being deliberated.
“Pen Mutiara is also making claims that all fishermen are against the PSR,” he said in a statement today.
He said the state had held talks with Pen Mutiara’s leaders on the Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP), where ex gratia and other benefits were discussed.
“We have also learnt that details of the proposed SIMP were not relayed to Pen Mutiara’s members in their entirety.
“Their claims to the press are unfair and do not portray the real situation,” he said.
Zakiyuddin said based on a presentation on the proposed SIMP to fishermen last October, skippers and their crew members will receive RM21,600 and RM12,960 each respectively.
Certain fishermen’s groups will receive RM5,400 to RM9,000, depending on their location.
He said the payment will be made in stages, where 50% to 75% will be paid out first to different groups of fishermen, depending on their proximity to the artificial islands and as the reclamation progresses.
Zakiyuddin said the payments would be made provided that reclamation works are carried out.
He said Island A at the waters off the Penang airport runway will take about nine years to be completed, while the entire three islands would be completed in 30 years.
The PSR project has yet to begin pending an environmental management plan, as ordered by the Department of Environment.