GEORGE TOWN: The proposed cable car system for Penang, which is part of the ambitious RM27bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), has been rejected by the Federal Government.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the state government has been informed of the decision.
He said the decision was made as the proposed project would affect the passage of vessels operating at the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT).
â€œWe might consider if the state government is willing to change the alignment, which is also subject to several conditions set by the Marine Department,â€ Liow told reporters yesterday after attending a briefing by the Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) at Swettenham Pier.
He said the proposed undersea tunnel project also needed to be looked into as it could affect the seabed or the passageway of the ships plying the northern region route.
â€œThe Federal Government is also interested to know more about the tunnel project but to date, the state government has not provided any details,â€ said Liow.
It was reported that the proposed cable car system spanning the Penang channel, will cross the Middle Bank to mainland. It was expected to be completed between 2018 and 2019.
Liow also said 14 companies are planning to bring their cruise ships this year into Penang and tourists arrivals here could increase from 221,000 to 238,000.
â€œAlthough we lost Star Cruise, we have managed to bring in more such ships, which is good for tourism and the economy,â€ he said.
On the 3.4ha land dispute between PPSB and the state government, which had been earmarked for expansion at the Swettenham Pier, Liow said it was time the state government stopped playing politics for the sake of the Penang people.
â€œThe 3.4ha land for the expansion of PPSB and the land for the expansion of the Tanjung Marina must be resolved as we cannot continue this indefinitely,â€ he added.
As for the business development of PPSBâ€™s container traffic, Liow said there should be at least 8% growth of container traffic handled by the port.
â€œPPSB handled 1.3 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) in 2015 and the figure is expected to increase to at least 1.45 million TEUs this year,â€ he said.
Liow, however, said the bottleneck at the Padang Besar train station, which serves as the inland port to bring in more containers via trains from Thailand, could affect the figure.
â€œThe Federal Government is planning a detailed expansion of the Padang Besar railway station and inland port to bring in containers on train from Thailand to the Penang Port,â€ he added.
On the oil spill on Friday at the Prai Bulk Terminal, Liow said the Marine Department was working closely with the Department of Environment (DOE) and PPSB to identify the source of the spill and take the necessary action.