Not surprisingly, no traffic consultant was named in the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment.
A survey carried out by the DEIA consultants showed that the most cited reason respondents disagree with the STP2 project is increased traffic congestion. The DEIA report estimates that STP2 will support a population of more than 200000.
This will create massive pressure on the traffic dispersal and transport system in the project site and its neighbouring townships. A review of the traffic impact assessment of the DEIA report by members of Penang Forum and concerned Penangites raises several major concerns:
a) The traffic study carried out by the traffic consultants for Pulau Tikus, Jalan Kelawei and Jalan Burma was based on the old two-way traffic flow system. These roads have now changed to one-way and hence the results of the traffic study for these areas are no longer valid.
b) The consultants used peak 9649 cars in the mornings and 12134 cars in the evenings for 23358 residential units. This works out to be less than 1/2 car equivalent per household for an affluent township! (The current Penang statistics show more vehicles than the Penang population.)
A recent TIA for a project in Sungai Nibong of 1560 residential units with an estimated 5470 residents puts peak morning traffic at 9737 pcu/hr and peak evening at 11362 pcu/hr.
STP2 is 10 times bigger! How can a township of 200000 people produce such an unrealistic traffic increase? When basic data used in the study are so questionable, the accuracy of the whole traffic impact assessment report is in question.
c) The DEIA report assumed that “by the time the proposed development is completed (by 2034), the public transport utilisation would already achieve 40 per cent”. On what basis did the consultants use this ‘wishful thinking’ assumption to determine their trip generation data? Even the Penang Master Transport Plan acknowledges that 25 per cent mode share for public transport is already a good achievement. The current public bus transport mode share is only 3 per cent.
d) The success of the traffic dispersal plan for STP2 relies heavily on the timely completion of all the four mega road and undersea tunnel projects. The consultants emphasised that “the Penang Outer Ring Road (Porr) and other major highways that were initially planned to improve the traffic conditions along Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Jalan Tanjung Tokong and Pulau Tikus are now necessary”. Porr is still needed to link these four new highways and tunnel to the STP2 arterial roads and 10 new interchanges will need to be constructed. All these require public funding. The DEIA consultants are presenting a ‘best case scenario’ with everything completed in time by 2034. What happens if all or some of these mega projects do not materialise? Porr was and remains a very controversial project. Additionally who funds the 10 new interchanges and Porr?
(The Paragon development experience – The Paragon project was approved on the assumption that both Porr and the monorail would be built to solve the traffic congestion. Neither was built; the resulting traffic chaos is self-evident. We cannot repeat this mistake again on a much bigger scale with STP2. Road networks must be built and be in place before any large projects are allowed to take off.)
Penang Forum finds that the traffic impact section of the DEIA report is highly flawed and NOT acceptable. We call for a new report to be done by an independent traffic consultant appointed by the Penang state government and not by the project proponents. We also call on the Penang state government to ensure that all road networks and infrastructure be built and be in place before any large projects are allowed to take off.
This is part three of a media statement issued by the Penang Forum Steering Committee on 3 April 2014