Malaysian Nature Society: Proposed Penang undersea tunnel link redundant

The Star 5 Feb 13;

GEORGE TOWN: The proposed undersea tunnel linking the island to the mainland, which is part of a RM8bil infrastructure package unveiled by the Penang Government, is redundant, said an environmental group.

“The Penang Bridge is not that congested. The second Penang Bridge will also be completed soon. So, a third link between the island and the mainland is not necessary,” said Malaysian Nature Society Penang branch adviser D. Kanda Kumar.

Kanda Kumar was commenting on the package, comprising the 6.5km Gurney Drive-Bagan Ajam undersea tunnel, a 4.2km Gurney Drive-Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu bypass, a 4.6km Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass and a 12km road connecting Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had been quoted in online news portals as saying that the state executive council had decided to award a company the tender to construct the four roads.

Although Lim did not name the company, it is known that the package of projects will begin in 2015.

The group, said Kanda Kumar, was also concerned that the tunnel would lead into a mangrove area in Seberang Prai, which was visited by thousands of migratory birds, including endangered species from Siberia, Japan and China.

A public transport system, he added, should first be put into place before such mega projects were implemented.

However, Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris Atan said he was in full support of the projects.

Meanwhile, at another press conference, Lim said the state government was prepared to face objections over the projects.

“We will bite the bullet and let the people decide whether they want these roads or not. Our proposed roads will cut through reserve land and uninhabited areas so there is no question of relocating residents,” he said.