GEORGE TOWN: Reclamation work on one of the three islands that make up part of the Penang South Islands project is set to begin as early as November once approvals are obtained, Zairil Khir Johari said.
The state executive councillor in charge of infrastructure and transport said work on the remaining two islands would be put on hold until every inch of the RM10 billion “Island A” was taken up.
“Island A” would be developed to meet the demand for industrial land in Penang, he said.
The state government had initially planned to sell the three man-made islands, measuring 1,800ha in total, to finance its ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
“The island we are creating has to be catalytic. It will bring high-end industries and global business services, creating high-quality jobs for the masses.
“Then, everything else (such as transportation projects) would come in,” Zairil told a media briefing here when asked if the project would continue to finance big-ticket rail and road projects on the island as originally envisioned.
The island will be reclaimed by Gamuda Engineering under a deal struck with the Penang government.
Asked about concerns that the project was taking off at the height of worsening climate change, Zairil said reclamation remained a valid way to counter rising sea levels, as recommended by the United Nations.
He said the island would be fully absorbent, and be able to take in excess rainwater and store it in water ponds through swale drainages.
Meanwhile, the project’s director Szeto Wai Loong revealed that at least RM4 billion would be spent on the first phase of the reclamation which would see close to 9,000 construction workers employed.
The reclaimed island was expected to be completely ready for development in 2025, he added.
“The environment department will meet us over the environmental impact assessment by Oct 4.”
Szeto also revealed that a 121ha land on Island A, originally set aside for the expansion of the Penang International Airport runway, had been done away with.
He said Malaysia Airports had other plans and the land that was set aside would now be for the LRT depot station for the maiden Bayan Lepas line.