KUALA LUMPUR – The Works Ministry have yet to receive any updates on the feasibility and detailed design studies for Penang’s proposed undersea tunnel or third bridge project.
Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said in May 2016, the Penang government wrote in to the ministry to request for approval for the third bridge without providing a single piece of supporting document.
“Unable to proceed without supporting documents, our ministry had asked five times over the following months for the studies, which will cost the Penang government RM305 million, of which at least RM135 million had been paid as at May 2016,” he said in a statement here today.
Fadillah said on Aug 6 last year, the Penang government admitted that the studies were not fully completed and had promised to deliver it to the ministry by early 2017.
“Today marks the end of the first quarter of 2017. Our ministry wishes to update the public that we have yet to receive the studies. Therefore, the fault for any delays do not lie with our ministry.
“We also wishes to express certain concerns about the project and offer our assistance to the Penang government should they need it,” he added.
Fadillah said the ministry also expressed belief that the RM305 million cost of the studies to be excessive and was beyond the cost guidelines for construction projects of this nature.
“We have the expertise to complete the studies on-time and at lower cost. We again extend our willingness to explore with the Penang government should they require help,” he said.
The minister also noted that RM2.83 billion of Penang state land swapped for the project had been presold by the tunnel concession company to a listed company in a signing ceremony on Jan 15, 2016, which was attended by Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng.
“Despite this payment and preselling of state land, we note that the first phase of this project was initially expected to start construction in early 2015.
“Since 2015, the Penang government had then revised the timeline several times citing various reasons,” he added.
Fadillah said recently, the Penang executive councillor in charge of infrastructure said the first phase of the project was only expected to start construction in the middle on 2018 at its earliest.
“Our ministry continues to express our concern on the multiple delays, the cost of the studies and the cost of this project,” he said. – BERNAMA