Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 22.5.2016.
A Formal Letter Will Be Sent To Datuk Fadillah Yusof Next Week To Seek Federal Government Approval For The 3rd Bridge From Gurney Drive On The Island To Bagan Ajam On The Mainland So That The State Government Can Consider Building A Toll-Free Bridge.
A formal letter will be sent to Datuk Fadillah Yusof next week to seek federal government approval for the 3rd bridge, from Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam on the mainland, so that the state government can consider building a toll-free bridge. During the Penang state Assembly meeting on Friday I had said that it would be difficult to get approval from the Federal government to allow the state government to build the 3rd bridge, when even the Prime Minister’s triple promises to build the LRT on Penang island remained unfulfilled.
Further the Federal government has also refused to even reply to numerous letters to the state government to permit the state government to build the LRT on our own at our own expense if the federal government refuses to do so. When there was no reply from the Federal government, the state government had no choice but to appoint a Project Delivery Partner(PDP) for the RM27 billion Public Transport Master Plan(PTMP) by open tender. The PDP is the facilitator not only to make the PTMP project technically and financially viable, but also to secure regulatory approvals for public transport licensing and Detailed Impact Environment Assessment(DEIA) studies.
From this painful experience, it would be difficult to secure a response to build a 3rd Bridge, much less obtain Federal government approval to build a 3rd bridge, even one that is self-financed by the state government at our own expense. The previous BN state government had surrendered the rights to the Federal government to build any bridges linking the island to the mainland. Whilst the state government had to seek approval to build such bridges, there is no mention of a need for such approvals for an underground sea-bed tunnel link.
For this reason, the state government was compelled to choose the more expensive tunnel link, which is more than twice the cost of the bridge. If the Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof can give approval to build a bridge instead of the tunnel, this will save cost. The tunnel link costs RM3.7 billion(by open tender) and a bridge would cost RM1.8 billion, a savings of nearly RM2 billion. Such cost savings may allow the state government to waive the need to charge tolls for using the 3rd bridge.
The Penang state government has never imposed any toll charges on roads and bridges built, but had proposed a toll so as not to directly sabotage the business models for the other 2 existing bridges. Whilst the Penang state government wishes to thank Datuk Fadillah for his concern, we hope that he can approve the construction of a 3rdBridge at the state government’s own expense so that the Penang government can test whether a bridge can be built toll-free.
If the Penang state government fails to build the 3rd bridge toll free, then a toll champion like BN can then score huge political points against the Penang state government for our inability to realistically fulfil our promises. There is no reason for the Federal government not to give approval for the 3rd bridge when there is no cost to the Federal government as it will be fully financed by the state government. Further this will give the opportunity for BN to laugh at the expense of Pakatan for making empty promises no different from BN.
LIM GUAN ENG