There are three aspects to the proposed Penang Hill cable car system:
- The impact on the summit, which is already touching or surpassing its maximum carrying capacity of 10,000 people per day.
- The impact on the hill of building pylons and maintaining them, requiring some kind of new track up the hill perhaps.
- The impact around the ground station, especially the congestion.
We have touched on the first two points in earlier blog posts.
Let’s look at the third point: where will the ground station be?
Wherever it is, it will add to the congestion around the area.
Possible locations that have been mentioned by various people include the Youth Park car park or the Botanic Garden itself.
Will they build the ground station at the Botanic Garden?
But the Penang Botanic Garden director reportedly has already said:
The Penang Botanic Gardens Department director Mohd Azwa Shah Ahmad has assured the public that under his watch, the Gardens will not see any haphazard developments that can mar the natural heritage.
“There will not be any suka hati (indiscriminate) decisions and definitely no major projects. Before we erect anything or make any changes, I will consult all the relevant authorities, including the local council and landscape department,” he promised.
Moreover, the public hearing for the proposed Special Area Plan for the Botanic Garden is already over. If at all the ground station for the cable car system is going to be located at the Garden, then the SAP for the Garden has to be reopened for public comment and feedback. I don’t think such a massive project can be slipped into the SAP without giving the public a chance to comment again.
The state government must give us more details about what it has in mind for the cable car system, which will add to the development pressure and congestion in and around the hill.
As I mentioned earlier, not every development is good development. Just because the federal government would like to unthinkingly provide RM270m for the cable car system does not mean the state government has to grab it with open arms, if it is seen to be detrimental to the long-term sustainability of the hill and the area around the proposed ground station.