Penang is set to get its maiden LRT project – a 17.5km elevated stretch linking Komtar with the Penang International Airport.
With construction slated to begin next year, the RM4.5bil project is part of a package of solutions for an island that has long been choking on its traffic.
The LRT project – expected to be awarded in June – will mark the realisation of the long-awaited implementation of the RM27bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which also includes a 25km expressway linking Bayan Lepas and Tanjung Bungah.
According to reliable sources, Gamuda Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, and a Chinese company have been shortlisted to undertake the projects, the bulk of which would be funded through land reclamation rights in the state.
The LRT and new expressway will be built using the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) concept, where the PDP will step in to resolve problems should parts of the construction fail to meet construction criteria.
In Penang’s case, should either one of the Malaysian companies get the award, it would have to partner with the Chinese company, especially in the construction of the LRT project.
It would be likewise should the Chinese company win the contract.
Six consortia, including three foreign-Malaysian partnerships as well as three Malaysian public listed companies, have put in their bids following Penang’s invitation last August to qualified companies to serve as the PDP for the PTMP.
The payoff for building the LRT project is the right to reclaim 1,618ha at either the southern part of the island, of which about 485ha will be used for the future expansion of the airport and to expand the Free Industrial Zone, or at a 607ha stretch between the Penang Bridge and the mouth of Sungai Pinang, an area popularly known as the Middle Bank.
Penang Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had said the appointed PDP must be a reliable partner to guarantee the success of the projects.
“They will have to oversee all the projects estimated at RM27bil. The costs cover highway infrastructure (RM16bil) and public transport (RM9bil), while the institutional costs amount to RM905mil,” he said, adding that Penang alone would foot some RM10bil of the total cost.
In a subsequent interview, Chow said the LRT line – which will be supported by a revamped stage bus system and trams – would be a priority, with completion targeted for five to six years.
In return for their role in realising the state transport master plan, the Chinese company will get to reclaim about 566ha in Seberang Prai, of which 161.8ha is located near the North Butterworth Container Terminal and 404ha near Bagan.
It is learnt that it will take a year to get necessary approvals for the reclamation works,
Chow said some of the projects would fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
“The RM10bil allocation from the state does not include the RM6.3bil for the undersea tunnel and three expressway projects,” he said.
The 6.5km road tunnel is planned to run from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam in Butterworth. The expressways include a 4.2km bypass from Persiaran Gurney to Persiaran Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a 4.6km expressway and by-pass from Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway to Bandar Baru Air Itam and a four-lane 12km road linking Tanjung Bungah with Teluk Bahang.