Activists from Penang’s emerging green movement gathered at the Penang Youth Park this morning to display a model of an 80-foot-wide six-lane overpass that will cross over the green haven, a popular spot for exercise and recreation.
The overpass is part of the controversial RM8bn Pan Island Link highway which critics say is the result of backward planning that will entrench the use of cars on the island, adding to more congestion. The highway will also cross over and degrade another popular park, the Sungai Ara Linear Park, run through ecologically sensitive hill-side areas and pass near places of worship, residential areas and schools.
The model displayed at the Youth Park this morning also showed the access road from Western Road/Jalan Utama at the turn-off to Jesselton, where it is feared that a string of mature trees will have to be chopped down or relocated to make way.
Speaking of a model of the overpass, the question that must be asked is, why should ordinary people have to come up with a such a model and display it themselves when that should be the responsibility of the state government or the project proponent. How else can people give property feedback when they can’t visualise what the highway overpass (and its nearby access road) would look like?
In an unrelated development, around the Christmas period, trees were quietly removed from Peel Avenue, presumably to make way for a private hospital expansion project.
The state government had sold a large plot of vacant land there to a private hospital firm instead of using it for public purposes such as genuinely affordable housing, a public park or community garden and expansion for the nearby Penang General Hospital, which is bursting at the seams.
Around the same time, a couple of trees were (re?)planted inside Fort Cornwallis area, close to a highly sensitive archaeological excavation site. This led to concerned Penangites asking if approval had been obtained for the digging and planting in the area and who exactly had given the approval.