Proposed road projects in Penang not a solution to traffic problem

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The Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia have chipped in with their thoughts on the three proposed highway projects in Penang.

Their statement below:

Many Penangites may not be aware that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed three major road projects in Penang has been displayed for public comments since 19 June 2017.

Normally, EIA reports will be displayed for a month and another two weeks will be allocated to submit comments. But not in this case, although it involves a large population of Penang.

Many of those potentially affected by this project may not even know that the road will be very close to their homes, offices, businesses or that it will cut across forested areas and rivers. Some of the impacts are irreversible, such as clearing of forests, cutting of hills and acquisition of houses and land.

What is at stake here?

The following is a brief description of the projects as stated in the EIA:

Package 1: The North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang covering a length of 10.53km of which 2.275km is elevated. The last 3.3km traverses through Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve and Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve and ends at the connection to Jalan Teluk Bahang, near the Sekolah Kebangsaan Teluk Bahang.

Package 2: The Air Itam–Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Bypass covering a length of 5.7km of which 3.8km is elevated. The proposed roads are dual two-lane carriageways (four lanes). The route from Lebuhraya Thean Teik skirts around a forested and hilly area towards Jalan Bukit Gambir.

Package 3: Persiaran Gurney–Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chung Eu Bypass covering a length of 4.075km with 2.025km double-deck elevated road and 2.050km double-deck tunnel.

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Land use along the alignment

A total of 238 plots of land will be acquired for the three road projects. These involve 3.34 hectares (ha) in two permanent reserved forests, 34.5ha of state land forest, 16.5ha of forested land, private land, state and federal land. The total area acquired for Package 1 is 600,555 square metres. Package 2 involves the acquisition of 216,606 square metres, and Package 3 involves 9,792 square metres.

The land use distribution along the road corridor (right of way – ROW) in Package 1 covers 348,651 square metres of forest or nearly 52 per cent of the total area. Package 2 ROW covers nearly 45 per cent of forested area (165,334 square metres). Package 3 runs through the town centre consisting of residential, commercial and industrial areas.

Forests and hills

The alignment of Package 1 passing through the Teluk Bahang forested areas will include the removal of one endemic and unique species of tree i.e atuna penangiana (kerusing gasing) which is listed as vulnerable. Among other flora, a total of 253 species of trees has been recorded here.

Removal of this vegetation will bring about habitat degradation, fragmentation, transformation or complete loss.

Package 1 and Package 2 traverses through hilly areas with a maximum elevation on 159m (near Moonlight Bay) and 110m (near Menara Greenview) respectively.

Landslides and faults

The road construction will involve cutting of slopes and rock blasting. According to records of the Jabatan Kerja Raya, landslides have occurred near areas along the alignment of Package 1 and Package 2.

It is stated in the EIA report that according to the feasibility srudy Report, the alignment for Package 1 crosses over several inferred geological faults, for example, the Sungai Satu Faults and the Sungai Kelian-Sungai Pinang Faults and spans over the Sungai Siru Fault.

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Rivers and flood-prone areas

The proposed project will traverse through various river catchments. A total of 21 rivers may be affected due to earthworks for the road project. This will lead to soil erosion and sedimentation of the rivers downstream if proper mitigation measures are not in place.

Package 1 will cross seven rivers and the largest catchment areas are Sungai Batu Ferringhi (11.546 square kilometres) and Sungai Teluk Bahang (12.273 square kilometres). Package 2 crosses part of Paya Terubong and Sungai Dondang towards the Gelugor area. Part of the alignment falls within the Sungai Pinang and Sungai Gelugor river basins, which finally drains into the sea.

Package 2 and Package 3 fall within a flood-prone area. The entire alignment for Package 3, which includes the tunnel component, falls within the flood-prone area of the Sungai Pinang catchment.

Sungai Pinang is a river highly prone to overflowing, and historical data of water level since 1985 show that the maximum water level recorded each year till now surpasses the danger level of 2.70 metres, except for 1988, recording 2.47 metres but way above the warning level of 2.10 metres. The highest flood occurred in 1995 at 3.79 metres.

Noise, air pollution, vibration

Residents along the proposed road corridor will be affected by air pollution, dust, noise and vibration. The EIA states that residents in high-rise buildings will no longer see clear sky but in place, an elevated road passing near their homes which will change the visual aesthetics in the area.

Need for proper public consultation of people affected by major roads

The project proponent ie the state government should hold a public exhibition at major residential areas that will be affected by the road alignment because many of them may not know about these proposed projects. Genuine public opinion should be sought, and the state government should not merely rely on the survey carried out by EIA consultants.

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More roads not a solution to traffic

Besides the environmental, health and socio-economic impacts arising from the construction of all the three roads, CAP and SAM had stated numerous times that the road projects are not needed.

A number of studies have shown that, while new road projects or road widening may offer temporary relief in the short run, it is no real solution to traffic congestion.

New roads create new traffic. Once a new road is fully operational, it will invariably attract more traffic. While some of this may be traffic diverted from more congested roads, the rest will be, new motorised traffic as a result of an increase in the use of cars.

The three major road projects proposed now amount to the revival of the Penang Outer Ring Road (Porr) project served on a different plate. Porr then was vehemently opposed by the people of Penang.

Now the people have to decide whether they want more highways traversing through environmentally sensitive areas and residential areas. Public comments to the Department of Environment are vital.

We reiterate that Penang does not need more road projects that are going to compromise sustainable transport options. There must be a comprehensive and rational transport strategy for Penang. The thrust must be on reducing private vehicles on the island instead of encouraging the same. We reiterate that Penang does not need more road projects that are going to compromise sustainable transport options.

Say no to more roads.

SM Mohamed Idris is president of the Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. Environmental groups are urging for a moratorium on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and further evaluation to be carried out over concerns that “environmentally sensitive areas” along its route would be impacted.

    The Malaysian Nature Society, Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia and Treat Every Environment Special, in a joint statement, called on the government to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the massive project, involving state agencies, environmental organisations, research institutions, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders.

    “We are concerned that ECRL will traverse the Central Forest Spine (CFS), as well as coastal forest areas, wetlands and rivers.

    “All these are part of sensitive and interconnected ecosystems, and home to many endangered and rare wildlife species, including tigers, elephants, tapirs and sun bears.”

    • Since BN’s ministers are all out in attacking “at whatsoever planned developments” in Penang, it’s now a good timing for a “return match” right ? Just make it a farce, a big farce…wouldn’t you ?

    • Is ECRL pandering to Red China strategic moves (in South East Asia) to counter US-allied states’ (like Singapore) economic survival?
      We should have been more careful as ECRL may not prove to be what it will be given our work culture, asset-corporate management & the volatile East Coast seas of monsoon season. I doubt we can reach the highest level of Singapore’s port & container management & work culture this century, unless this ECRL’s 2 ports strategic assets (in Klang & Kuantan) are wholly managed by the Red Chinese.
      Where this ECRL line cuts thro, it will most definitely affect migrating patterns of faunas (animals), eco-peace, river-water flow, flora-fauna co-survival & imagine the tons of cut forest timber which will go to whose pockets.
      The Central Forest Spine (CFS) will never be the same again with an ugly rail line, no comforting even if the ECRL should fail.

  2. Dear Anil,
    To thank you for bringing this to the public’s attention. It would be most helpful if information could be sent on where the proposed road scheme will pass as residents of BUKIT RIA are keen to know how close any
    elevated road is likely to pass.

    Clearly the proposed road scheme is a massive project and one would sincerely hope there are those within Penang government who have sufficient knowledge of slope stabilization and the necessary manpower resources to carry out such a scheme. Hong kong went through similar nightmares so before anyone commences this scheme it should be incumbent on citizens to be given full disclosure and transparency.
    Is there a FINAL MASTER PLAN of the proposed road development x all packages and from where can it be obtained, both hard and soft copies.

    Thank you and please keep up the good work of informing the public.

    • If you want to deal with this CAT Gomen of Money For Nothing, anything can cost money!
      Hard copies or soft copies. Plus one has to vouch non-disclosure of ‘state secrets’ under cat’s oath.
      BTW, anyone has fury cat’s paws?

  3. New York City’s hidden commuter network
    http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170802-new-york-citys-hidden-commuter-network
    Watch the video by Daniel Goodman.

    New York City’s subway commuters are in the midst of a “summer of hell,” a phrase used by the state governor to describe the delays, service interruptions and overcrowding plaguing the city’s sprawling rail network.
    But in areas where the subway and bus system doesn’t reach, those wanting to get from A to B rely on “dollar vans,” a little-known network of small, unmarked buses.
    Dollar vans don’t use bus stops. Instead, commuters flag them down from the street, learning the system by word of mouth or by having someone show them the ropes.

    • NY what metropolis? Is a cow town. Bus alike cats and dogs doing their big job where ever they like. Must have follow kampongs in China and indon. One can raise his hand and the roti van will stop.

    • Due to the jam in the flow of magical petro-dollar wealth and multiple imperial wars (yet to turn a profit except for the suppliers) the imperial economy is jammed. The problem is far worse than trains in one city. However, one writer said that neocons are like zombies: failure over a decade or more leads to doing more of the same – launch yet another battle or invasion. They are livid that China is already planning for the reconstruction of Syria in a big way.

  4. Less private driving then no traffic jam then no need roads expansion. Simple education can save money and environment.

  5. Malaysia risks becoming stuck as a middle-income country, said Francis E Hutchinson, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

    “Unless the country starts looking at issues like producing more scientists and engineers, more university graduates that are labor-ready and of better quality, spending more on R&D, and improving its legal and regulatory framework, it is possible that Malaysia will not be able to attain high-income status,” Mr Hutchinson said. “It’s not a static benchmark.”

    Malaysia dropped five places this year to 24 in a ranking of the 63 most competitive economies by the Lausanne-based Institute for Management Development. When measuring the extent to which basic, technological, scientific and human resources meet the needs of business, it came in at 32.

    “Attempts to shift Malaysia’s economy towards one that is being driven by productivity will face limited success,” said Chia Shuhui, an Asia analyst at BMI Research in Singapore. It “will be hindered by Malaysia’s inadequate education system and exacerbated by the nation’s ongoing brain drain.”

    • Economist Dr. Jomo has opined that middle-income trap is a chimera; gomen should be focusing on basic development (not driving the country deeper into debt through vanity projects promoted by trans-national capital).

      Rankings: They are like polls and even present-day degrees; the less said, the better. Are the good rankings reflected by good relationships with our regional neighbours?

      “Ecucation system” and “brain drain”: Anything to skirt the issue of the elephant in the room.

      • Many Penangites heading south to work in Singapore and later take up citizenship there. Is this not brain drain? You get those banglas as replacement. Get it?

      • Pg Lang head south for work but sing Lang come to pg with $€¢£¥ to do business. Bark by Tun Lang not effective. But act and do rather than shut

    • Why we needs guest workers to be cleaners, secure guards, refilled in hypermarket? Boss give low, pasar mlm agents make heaps, Mata minta ic, local think job for low caste and many locals cannot get the main job or moonlight job

  6. Quote:
    Many Penangites may not be aware that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed three major road projects in Penang has been displayed for public comments since 19 June 2017.

    Reality Q: How many Penangites (beside those staying near Package 2) are aware that massive & dangerous hill slope cuttings have been going on the past months at Bukit Kukus (Paya Terubong)?
    So, what’s the use of EIA displayed to the public when in reality they are adamant to go ahead with these 3 Packages (immediately after public display)???
    Take a drive to Paya Terubong to see for yourself this weekend. See Penang’s own giant White Shroud of Turin @ Taman Lau Geok Swee. FYI, there is an ongoing court case between the developers & residents of Taman Lau Geok Swee, so to speak of the giant White Shroud which is covering the massively exposed hill slopes & stoppage of further hill cutting.

    • IN REALITY, ALL OF THE PTMP WILL GO AHEAD.
      Regardless of public disapprovals, Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia outcries & anticipated degradation of quality of life of affected residents.
      This will be an Achilles Heel of DAP should it continues on the Road of Arrogance & seemingly Tango with greedy developers, just for the sake of fulfilling the controversial PTMP via land swap deals (for building more unaffordable housing), unsavoury to most Penangites & detrimental to the fragile environment of limited land, sea & forest.

      Niao Kong, you had better take note.
      Your unsavoury dream (or hidden vision) of hitting 2 birds with one PTMP (more highways & more glitzy richie condos – to showcase development in Penang) may come true BUT Pakatan Harapan may or may not win in Penang.

      • The road under Package 2 affecting Bukit Kukus hills starts from the traffic junction of Jalan Bukit Kukus – Lebuhraya Thean Tek (opposite McDonald’s+Caltex Station) going uphill & cuts across the said White Shroud of Paya Terubong excavated hill land. It will continue towards / link with the present hill cutting above Taman Terubong Jaya 2 & Taman Terubong Indah (which one can see from EcoWorld Gallery’s Eco Terraces). The ongoing hill slope cutting will eventually link to Jalan Bukit Gambir.

    • The EIS on display is similar to a public display if you want to open a lim kopi o shop also selling tiger beer and one ton mee. There are those object not because of lim kopi but beer for the tiger. Others dislike the one ton. No ton is better. In the end you can still run the shop but no tiger and no one ton.
      Same with EIS. Have you read the EIS? Tell us or you miss the one ton?

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