The 5km-Jelutong Expressway still poses a couple a niggling questions.
RM 700m expressway, orginally estimated to cost RM300m, later rising to RM370m or more, was supposedly built “free of charge” – with no toll imposed on motorists – under a privatisation exercise mooted in 1997.
But at what cost to Penang?
The valuable rights to the reclamation of
close to 300 acres 325 acres of prime sea-front land, in addition to existing land – making a total of some 330 355 acres, later apparently increased to 368 acres – were handed over to IJM in return for the ‘free’ highway.
And, for good measure, a loan was reportedly given – was it RM33 million? How thoughtful.
What was the potential gross development value of the land that was given away in exchange for a short 4.7km-highway that cost only a few hundred million ringgit? RM7bn? Double that? More?
When you consider that this stretch will turn into even more valuable sea-front land forever – and the previous state government should have known that – do you think this privatisation deal was in the best interest of Penangites?
The former Penang chief minister, Koh Tsu Koon, owes Penangites a detailed accounting of this privatisation venture.