GEORGE TOWN (July 22): The Gamuda Bhd-led SRS Consortium confirmed that the initial cost of RM27 billion for the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) has ballooned to an estimated RM46 billion, after additional components were added by Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP).
However, Szeto Wai Loong, project manager for SRS — the project delivery partner (PDP) for the PTMP, said he was unsure if the components such as the Juru and Butterworth-Kulim Expressway intersections would be implemented by the PDP.
“The Halcrow Consultant Sdn Bhd study on the PTMP revealed that the cost was about RM27 billion, but we estimate it to be RM46 billion after additional components were added by MPSP.
“The figure is an estimated amount benchmarked with other projects. We will know the actual cost, when the project tenders are called. Those components would be in phase two or three. We are not sure if we would be the PDP for those phases,” he told a press conference.
He said when the consortium submitted its proposal for the request for proposal (RFP), SRS proposed to implement the PIL and LRT system.
He expects the estimated RM16 billion three-island land reclamation off the southwest coast of Penang island and the Pan Island Link (PIL) highway to take-off in the final quarter of 2017.
Meanwhile, State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the funds generated from the land reclamation would not be adequate to settle the construction cost of PTMP.
He concurred that the cost has grown to RM46 billion, which includes RM16 billion reclamation cost and RM30 billion PTMP cost.
Chow said the PIL was part of the public transportation project that involved the light rail transit (LRT), which formed the priority components of the PTMP.
“The cost has increased when you take into account, the components featured on the mainland. The cost of the reclamation and infrastructure comes up to RM16 billion and, hence RM46 billion,” he said.
Chow said the state would have to seek bank loans to offset the remaining cost of the construction.
Chow said SRS, made up of Gamuda (60% stake), Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd (20%) and Loh Phoy Yen Sdn Bhd (20%), would finance the initial reclamation cost via a RM1 billion bridging loan.
On a separate matter, Chow and Szeto rebutted Penang Forum’s alternative PTMP unveiled on July 13, saying it was not realistic or practical, because it would result in more traffic congestion and land acquisition along the route.
Szeto said the cost would not be cheaper because it would involve underground digs, and delay in construction which could lead to cost overruns.
Civil society group Penang Forum proposal identified on-road trams and bus rapid transits (BRTs) as an alternative to SRS’ plan, which would cost a third of the construction cost.
Its representative Lim Mah Hui said then the average cost for the tram would amount to RM1.6 billion for a single route between Komtar and Bayan Lepas, compared with RM4.4 billion for the LRT of the same route.
He said the cheaper construction cost could save the state from having to reclaim land to fund the project, and source for bank loans or other financial methods to build the system.