Penang:Highway-tunnel plan a short-term solution


RM4bn for 8.8km of tunnels and highways? That’s what the Penang state government has in mind with two short stretches of tunnels and elevated highways.

The proposed roads shown against the alignment of the controversial and aborted Penang Outer Ring Road project

That works out to RM500m per kilometre. (The reason for the high cost is due to tunnels, elevated highways and compensation for land acquisition). Shouldn’t we be focusing on improving the public transport infrastructure instead of building more roads that would entrench reliance on private motor vehicles?

The two stretches:

  • a 4.2km George Town elevated Inner Ring Road from Jalan Pangkor near Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, and
  • a 4.6km tunnel and carriageway from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam to the Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

Is the controversial Penang Outer Ring Road being resurrected bit by bit?

Okay, I think both the state government and I can agree that Penang needs to do something urgently to overcome congestion. Where we differ is the means of going about it.

The state government feels that RapidPenang is largely beyond its control and it has to do something quickly in the meantime to alleviate congestion. Whereas I feel that we should put in place measures to immediately encourage people to turn to alternative modes of more sustainable transport.

So far there is no indication on whether these new highways are going to be tolled. The state government will apparently look at proposals before deciding. But if we are talking about a RM4bn price tag, then toll charges cannot be ruled out.

The moment the second Penang Bridge was approved, a dramatically higher traffic volume for the island in the near future was virtually guaranteed. The opening of a southern entrance to the island would allow greater inflows of private vehicles from expanding areas like Batu Kawan.

And now with the massive land reclamation going on in Tanjung Tokong, we are finding out that we need to find a solution to the traffic nightmare.

Where will it all end? Will we be only satisfied when the whole island is plastered with a crazy network of roads, highways and then multi-storey highways? and then what? Maybe our planners are not bothered about that because they would be happily retired by then, leaving the nightmare for future generations to sort out.

This report from The Star:

More roads not the way
[email protected]

NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations have raised concerns on the two new roads proposed by the Penang Government.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader has even called for a halt to the projects, estimated to cost some RM4bil, pending public consultation.

“We are rather surprised at the announcement as this is the first time we are hearing about these two roads.

“As far as we know, civil society has not been consulted at all,” he said at the association office.

Mohideen said more roads was not a solution to traffic congestion and the state should concentrate more of their efforts on improving public transport.

“We are spending more money on new roads as compared to spending them on public transport.

“However, studies have shown that building more roads only encourages people to buy more cars and this will in turn lead to an increase in the traffic volume.

“We call on the state to put a hold on the new roads until public consultation can be done,” he said.

Mohideen acknowledged that with the emergence of Rapid Penang in the state, the bus system had shown an improvement but he said more should be done in the creation of dedicated bus lanes and the introduction of feeder buses from neighbourhoods to main roads.

Citizens for Public Transport (Cepat) co-ordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said often, projects were focused only on the dispersal of private car traffic.

“We realise that critical traffic bottleneck points needed to be relieved with new links, however, it is important that these new linkages be planned with public transport routing in mind.

“Sufficient space should also be allocated for bus lanes, cyclists and pedestrians, and this should be done in the planning stage and not as an afterthought,” he said.

It was reported yesterday that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had opened a Request For Proposal (RFP) on two new roads — a 4.2km inner ring road connecting Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (formerly Jelutong Expressway) and a 4.6km-long tunnel road linking Paya Terubong and Bandar Baru Air Itam to the same expressway.

Lim had said the new roads would reduce traffic congestion on Penang island by up to 40%.

Report from theSun:

New plan to build inner ring road in Penang
By Himanshu Bhatt

Lim shows the two planned arteries (dotted red lines).
GEORGE TOWN (April 24, 2011): The fate of the controversial Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project has been called into question following the state’s announcement of a new plan to build an “inner ring road” and another major traffic bypass on the island at an estimated total cost of over RM4 billion.

The two new thoroughfares, comprising the 4.2km George Town Inner Ring Road starting from Jalan Pangkor near Gurney Drive and a 4.6km carriageway from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, would run directly onto the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on the eastern coast of the island.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today said the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) would undertake a Request for Proposals (RFPs) exercise for each project, in which major road concessionaires would be expected to take part.

“It may not happen because of the costs … but we prefer to fail trying than fail to try,” Lim told a press conference at his office here.

He declined to give a time frame for the projects but said they may be carried out simultaneously.

Lim stressed that the state had little option but to plan for the two roads in view of traffic and development pressures, in particular the opening of the Second Penang Bridge by the end of 2013 which was expected to significantly increase traffic flow into the island. He also pointed to a recent article by Time magazine which identified Penang as having significant investment potential.

It is estimated that the new Bandar Baru Ayer Itam artery alone would alleviate the traffic burden from surrounding roads in the area by about 30% to 40%.

Lim declined to comment when asked about the impact of the plans on the PORR, a federal project.

It has been reported that the PORR would entail construction of an 18-km toll highway cutting across the island from Tanjong Tokong to the Penang Bridge. The project has been opposed by numerous quarters as it is likely to involve reclamation of the popular Gurney Drive coastline and another shoreline in Middle Bank, a site close to the Weld Quay jetties near Jelutong.

Lim also provided an assurance that the two new projects would entail minimal land acquisition, saying the inner ring road from Jalan Pangkor is likely to feature a combination of a tunnel system and an elevated carriageway. He said the plan for the two roads will be coordinated with the state’s Public Transport Masterplan currently under preparation.

Lim said the state would propose to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala that plans for the two roads be included in the Greater Penang Transformation Master Plan.

He also said the state could not do anything to improve several other major roads that were under federal control, including Jalan Tun Dr Awang and Jalan Paya Terubong.

The state government had previously initiated several major traffic projects in Seberang Perai, with two new roads from Jalan Siram to Jalan Bagan 21 and from Jalan Bunga Tanjung to Jalan Rumah Hijau, as well as road expansions of Jalan Raja Uda and Jalan Song Ban Keng, a major artery in Bukit Mertajam. — theSun

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Penang Lang

The only long term approach Penang has in regarding the traffic woes is this — Take back the right of mass tranport planning and operation from the central government. As of right now, any plan of any kind of mass transport operation has to be approved by the federal government in Putra Jaya. They control everything: From the issuance of license of the company (which operates the mass transportation system), To who the shareholders are (as in how much shares that company must hand over to the bumiputeras), To who the directors are (as in they get to appoint X… Read more »

Andrew I

This should shut their girls up. 🙂


When the constitution was first drafted with the active participation of Tunku, they had in mind Malaya as a single entity differentiated only by the sultans in various states. I don’t know who represented Penang then but our fathers stupidly gave away all rights to be in conformity with other Malay states in exchange for automatic citizenship in the new federation. Today, their descendants are labeled “Pendatangs” by rabid racists in the principal ruling party. At least when Singapore was in Malaysia, the island state retained control over 4 key portfolios viz. Education, Information, Labour and one other which I… Read more »


This is the kind of situation that liberal hacks have no idea what they talking about and spouting nonsense principles. Do anyone really believe that if LGE and PR could put everyone in public transport he would not? How can anyone possibly think so? EVEN if LGE has control of the bus company, he could not solve the problem. Penang is simply a city-island designed for the 19th century NOT the 21st. Thanks to UMNO crony political-economy, the main issue was never dealt with an the poor consequences just accumulated. The roads in Penang simply are not wide enough and… Read more »


I have few simple questions –

1) where is the transport masterplan – this project should not be rolled out before the masterplan is well deliberated.

2)if he can call for an RFP for this road job, why not call for RFP for LRT/MRT? Don’t hide behind the excuse of public transportion being under Federal purview?

Let’s do a design competition here.

Penang Lang

That took me by surprised too.

All the while they never said anything regarding a master plan.

And then, boom ! They said they have awarded a company from Petaling Jaya to study and recommend a master plan.

Who knows Penang better?

Someone from Petaling Jaya, or someone from Penang?

And that award, was it through an open-tender?

If there was an open-tender process, where was it? Why was the tender never advertised?

As a Penang Lang, I am deeply troubled by the sudden development.

Ong Eu Soon

Like all other politicains in Bolehland, the ability ro send billions and billions seem to prove the capability of the government. No mega project no performance! What type of mind boggling leader we have? Give us a real good public bus services not a half cook services with no emphasis on feeder buses to cover larger and wider areas of services.

Penang Lang

If you want “bus service” you have to talk to Putra Jaya.

They control everything that has to do with mass transportation system, including bus services.


Satu lagi projek kerajaan CAT ! I think it should come as no surprise to everyone except to the PR fan club members. That LGE determined to turn the Pearl Island into a Concrete Island, as I had been saying since he took over. Anil, I am sure that you and many of those naive NGOs feel foolish for trusting LGE and coming up with misguided and syiok sendiri public forums on transport planning and mock election for MPPP. It is proven that LGE is not the least interested in sustainable public transport system or public consultation. I already warned… Read more »

Andrew I

Well, it’s all gloom and doom when it comes to the DAP with you. People shouldn’t be apologists, have to come out of their coconut shell, grow up and stop being in love with LGE.

It’s funny how everyone has got it wrong except for the all perfect you. Why don’t you go and project your fantasies elsewhere?

If anyone is a crony, it would be you, and a bitter one at that.


Perhaps Andrew,
This clown need to listen to this song


Get the facts first before you write. All transportations licesing e.g. buses are controlled by Putrajaya. LGE cannot create any new bus company for Penang.


Will soon have to live out at sea at the rate land is being gobbled up by roads….are Malaysians or Malaysian leaders all that dumb….


Everyone in Penang will say LGE is doing a great job, they will welcome this project with resounding fanfare la. Hahahahaahaa … who dares to speak up against LGE in Penang. NO one. Because KTK messed up so badly that everyone will say LGE’s … smells great. Look at Phase 2 of Tanjung Sri Pinang …. 700+ acres, how many units? Should be no less than 3,000 units because a density of 5 units per acres is low. How many cars per unit? Well 2-3 is normal for the rich … so we are talking about 10K more cars? Amazing… Read more »

Gerakan K

Ready to abandon rocket if they still pursue the project ???

Most likely not and that is why that rocket can do anything in Penang. Those top top rocket leaders know this.

Andrew I

Well, maybe it’s genuine love felt for DAP and the understanding that they should be given a chance to govern.

It’s a shame the same can’t be said about your backdoor minister.


Propose anything and its back to Gerakan? You are shallow.


May be Penang should implement ‘electronic road pricing’ (ERP) to charge vehicle drivers at peak hours on certain raod?

This will force people to take public transport and not to own personal car i.e. no need to take car loan.


Yes, DAP should ape PAP in enforcing ERP !! Ariffin please grow up before commenting.

In Singapore you can rely on first class public transport system and you hardy need to have a car. In Penang, LGE has not set up such a system nor shown any inclination for it.

Iskan darbak

Anil, The opening of the 2nd bridge is under federal control. Thus, Penang being inundated with more vehicles is a reality. What the state govertment is doing is taking steps to manage this potential gridlock. Among the steps being taken are more public vehicles like buses, encouraging car pooling, more feeder services and now additional roads for better dispersal. These are steps of a responsible government. Further, its an open RFP. Im am certain that all of us are in for a pleasant surprise (serendipity) when the final cost numbers gets tallied. Minus the cronies, sugar deals n blatant cost… Read more »


I am sure you might in a pleasant surprise if you are one of those DAP cronies. But for the rest of us, paying yet another steep toll and get stuck in traffic is no fun at all.

Remember, LGE had been demanding for the 2nd Penang Bridge and not forced on him by the Feds.



Do you know the difference between you and LGE ? Alot….. but the Most Important one is:

LGE – Look forward “Possitive” in his life
You – Always live in “Negative” (wasting times & life)

Think “Positive”, You will become “Posistive” ……


The project is only at RFP (request for proposal) stage.
No cause for alarm yet.

As long as the process is transparent and free from hanky panky, I have less reservations if the state benefits.

It is not surprising that at times the state seems to be putting the horse in front of the cart.
Reason is probably that it is difficult for the state to access information which often stops at the federal level.



I am sure the process will be as “transparent” as the eSpice project !! LOL

Apologists like you better not say anything if you have nothing better to say. What kind of info stops at the Feds ? Please do not talk nonsense. LGE can and has approached these contractors directly and there is no need for him to depend on the Feds.

Stop spinning bro, it is clear that the DAP cybertroopers have run out of ideas on how to defend the Cheap Minister.


Short-sighted highway plan? What then is NOT short-sighted highway plan for RM4bn that is being funded locally?
It would be nice to have an integrated public transport but unfortunately you dun have a concrete plan to stop Penangites from using their favorite car, anybody?


How has ridership on BEST gone since your last report?
Has it been going on long enough for them to have surveyed their passengers and identified any barriers to increased adoption / opportunities for extension?


Ya hor, how is the respond on the ridership?


I agree but we need to know if the state government takes on the project or is it federal government.

I believe we need full proof solution. Are Penangites to pay more for the road used so that we can subsidies public transport?

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad


Where does the 4bn figure come from?

Assuming the numbers are as they are, RM4bn over 8.8 km is about RM455 mn per km.

The cost of the MRT is projected at RM350 per km. An MRT along the same routes would probably move about 10x as many people as the roads. Trams would be able to move 5x as many people as the roads and cost approximately RM100mn per km

Regards, Moaz Yusuf Ahmad


I hope you should counter-check with another source rather than relying just one

To be fair to everybody


The cost of the MRT is projected at RM350 per km. Overhead or Underground mrt? This figure is from which company, local or Singapore’s?


No surprise at all…when the rocket has to inherit all the sub par surveyors, engineers, QS and the lot….obviously, Penang govt will end up getting BN plans and estimate…much to the displeasure of Gerakan K, nampak but, only can sniff and no cherry picking…



Sorry to sidetrack.

Any chance that the broadband charges be reduced in Malaysia?

Kindly comment on this report on today’s TheStar :

Penang Lang

There is no chance the broadband charge in Malaysia would be reduced. Look at how Rais Yatim puts it — Even before that new startup can start, he is already talking about BUILDING AND OWN UNDERSEA CABLE NETWORKS There are excess net capacity in and around South East Asia. There are a lot of different undersea cables criss-crossing the South China Sea, linking the SEA countries northbound to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan; Eastbound to the Philippines; Southbound to Australia; Westbound to India, Middle East and Africa, which then link to other parts of the world. There are already SO MANY… Read more »


3rd world democracy government always come in play with lots of politics.

Political wise, GE government cannot simply reject PORR, . It is obvious disgusting umno , gerakan and mca politickus will jump the gun if LGE openly reject PORR. To cancel PORR and ops for alternate plan, Penang people must show the voice with civil movement. Without voices to nutralised BN…, the 4 billions PORR “polticking” will keep going.



Once in a while you need to come out of that coconut shell of yours.

FYI DAP is not just rejecting PORR but coming up with an even worse version of it !

LGE has rejected most of BN’s projects and he has never been shy or afraid to do it.

People like you opposed PORR but now that DAP itself is proposing it, you suddenly desperately trying to justify that.

Gerakan K

No surprise at all. The rocket already lost direction.

The next big thing maybe Tiger Park in Penang !!!