PETALING JAYA: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has urged the transport ministry to appoint credible traffic experts to review, modify and implement the original Halcrow Plan for the Penang Transport Master Plan.
CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said this was necessary in view of the latest developments in transport technology and urban solutions.
The RM27 billion Halcrow Plan was endorsed by the Penang government in May 2013.
Civil society groups, however, claim that the plan had deviated significantly over the years from its original plans to move people and not vehicles.
They claim that the current plan is one that is more motorised with highways and tunnels. It also has an increased overall price tag of close to RM50 billion, to be financed through the reclamation and subsequent sale of three artificial islands, known as the Penang South Islands (PSI) reclamation project.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced that the PSI would be reviewed with the aim of being scaled down, adding that Putrajaya would also fully undertake the construction of Penang’s LRT project.
Mohideen today called for all parties to go back to the drawing board given the prime minister’s pledge to scale back the PSI project, noting that the reclamation project was originally mooted to raise funds to implement public transport projects, including the LRT.
“However, the federal government has now agreed to provide the funds for the Penang LRT. So why proceed with the reclamation plan?” he said in a statement.
“The prime minister’s message indicates that the mega project is defective in its planning and design, raising serious questions about the Penang government’s competence to formulate effective development programmes for Penangites.”
Mohideen said the LRT, on the other hand, remains an unsustainable development initiative when cheaper, less disruptive and modern urban solutions are available.
CAP, as a member of the Penang Forum, had previously pushed for autonomous rail transit systems currently being implemented in Iskandar Johor and Kuching, which only cost a fraction of the price of building an LRT line.
The proposed Penang LRT project was previously reported to cost RM9.5 billion.
“Instead of solving Penang’s traffic congestion problem, the LRT will scar her urban fabric and create new and more complex problems for Penangites,” Mohideen said.
“This sordid episode has put into sharp relief the deficiency of the Penang state government’s outdated development model, which is heavily real-estate driven, to the detriment of social development,” he said.
He also said Penang should convene a conference to reassess its development model urgently.