Three persons from the Penang Forum, including me, were invited to a meeting with the E&O Group’s management, including its CEO.
The meeting, held last Friday (10 June), was to clarify questions raised on this blog about further land reclamation (720 acres) under Phase 2 of the Seri Tanjung Pinang project, which was approved in principle by the Penang state government.
We had a useful meeting arising from the developer’s professed desire to be transparent.
E&O had secured the reclamation rights after it paid more than RM60m in taking over a stake originally held by United Engineers. It also took over outstanding loans.
We expressed concern about congestion arising from increasing development along the north coast – of which the land reclamation development and consequent commercial and residential development in Tanjung Tokong is one component. Already, the traffic jams and bottle necks are serious and will become more so. The construction of more residences, commercial buildings and hotels will further burden the carrying capacity of existing roads in the north.
To this, the E&O management responded that theirs is actually a low-rise low density project (whereas the original plans, before E&O took over, were for a much higher density development). (Within the 240-acre Phase 1, a strip of land, originally meant for a section of the (aborted) Penang Outer Ring Road, was surrendered to the state.)
The other concern is that existing reclamation may be responsible for the sedimentation in the port and Gurney Drive, which has become a mud flat instead of the sandy beaches of the past. More land reclamation may increase the likelihood of further sedimentation as the reclaimed land may change current sea patterns and affect the coast line. (Coastal land reclamation often results in sedimentation in one part and coastal erosion in another.) Such large-scale land reclamation will have an impact along the north coast, and the extent of the impact will have to be assessed in a hydraulic study.
The developer assured us that expert consultants have been hired by them to prepare the EIA.
One of us suggested it would be good if the EIA report could be reviewed by independent land reclamation experts who are internationally recognised.
The developer expressed interest in the idea. The firm also plans to invite the public to a forum for input before the Phase 2 reclamation and development proceeds.
It is a positive move for the developer to subject its EIA to public viewing and input. Similarly, we request the state to require all developers to submit their impact studies for public viewing, comment and objections.
The plans also envisage a widening of Gurney Drive (to three lanes each way, if I remember correctly), along which the developer will reclaim land along the sea-front for a 60-acre linear public park, to be surrendered to the state. At one end of the Gurney Drive linear park, nearest to Tanjung Tokong, a mangrove swamp will be cultivated.
All these plans are subject to approval by the relevant authorities.
Finally, we also raised the concern that the sea-fronts must be accessible to the public as required under the law.