The federal authorities’ “conditional” approval for the RM8bn Pan Island Link project will lay the foundation for further congestion in the state five to seven years after the highway is completed.
The 19.5km highway will be one of the most expensive around at RM400m per kilometre. Just imagine RM8bn could have improved public transport in the entire state, according to the original Halcrow masterplan, which has been superseded.
I have written at length about this monster highway; so I won’t repeat what I have said. You can kiss the Penang you know goodbye. Around 5,000 tons of explosives will be used to blast through the sensitive hill slopes of Penang. The highway will also degrade two much-loved parks – the Penang Youth Park and the Sungai Ara Linear Park.
Fat lot of good those 56 conditions will do. How on earth the Department of Environment was able to approve this ecologically disastrous highway, I haven’t the faintest clue. We all know how ‘fantastic’ the monitoring of hill-slope projects in Penang has been.
Minister Yeo Bee Yin told a town hall meeting last year that neither side would be happy with the outcome of the EIA process. Wrong! The state government is thrilled with the outcome (the chief minister calling it a “major milestone”); so too the contractors and developers. But civil society and many, many concerned Penang residents are utterly dismayed.
What a letdown. A big FAIL in the first big environmental test since the last general election on 9 May 2018.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Such mega projects are tied in with mega construction jobs, massive land reclamation and property development plans. It is Profits before the Planet. So spare us the sanctimonious statements about how this project will be able to reduce congestion when it is well known that highways spur “induced demand” for car travel. Spare us the Penang Green(wash) Agenda 2030. Let’s not worry about traffic emissions worsening climate change; come on, it won’t affect us – we have buried our heads in
the sand reclaimed land.
How different is the much longer Pan Island Link from the aborted Penang Outer Ring Road project, which some of those now in the Penang state government once opposed? Remember Orwell’s Animal Farm?
Meanwhile, what has happened to the upgrade to the Penang ferries? Still cannot find RM90m?
Aliran and many civil society groups have slammed the “conditional approval”.
Aliran is utterly shocked and disappointed over the granting of a conditional approval for the environmental impact assessment report for the proposed Pan Island Link highway in Penang.
The Department of Environment approved the report with 56 conditions despite numerous shortcomings highlighted by civil society groups and concerned individuals.
The proposed six-lane highway will be one of the most expensive highways around on a per kilometre basis. Reported estimates for the total cost range from RM7.5bn to RM9.6bn for the 19.5km route, which works out to RM385m-RM492m per kilometre.
The mind boggles at the land deals that will be involved in financing this highway (as well as the equally expensive elevated light rail transit system).
Apart from the exorbitant cost, the PIL will be environmentally disastrous. No amount of “conditions” can mitigate for the damage it will inflict on the island. See full Aliran statement on Aliran website