Ten reasons why the second Penang bridge is not a great idea

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Controversial second bridge: The site at Batu Kawan on the mainland as it looks now

  1. It will add to traffic congestion on the island. Even with an additional third lane, the existing Penang Bridge is expected to become congested again in a few years. That’s the rationale given for building a new bridge. But then, what will happen to the roads on Penang Island with all that traffic coming in? Green Lane and Scotland Road are already congested with no room for further widening. Has an independent EIA and traffic study – analysing the impact on surrounding areas and roads on the mainland and the island – been carried out for this project?
  2. We should be moving away from private vehicle transport and turning to public transport, not spending more money on infrastructure for private cars.
  3. Higher global oil prices costs will burden bridge users, what more if the bridge is more than 22-24km (17km over water) long. Oil prices will rise even further in coming years while Malaysia will become a net importer of oil in a few years.
  4. Toll charges on the second bridge are likely to be much higher than the RM7 on the existing bridge (a rate of RM9.40 has been mentioned), bearing in mind that the proposed bridge is over twice as long as the Penang Bridge. How many regular bridge users will be able to afford the higher toll and petrol charges?
  5. Higher toll rates on the new bridge will lead to hikes in the existing Penang Bridge toll (from RM7.00 to RM9.40 and no more 20 per cent discount for Touch ‘n’ Go users?) and ferry fares. (If the Penang Bridge toll and ferry fare is lower, few people will want to use the new bridge.)
  6. That would mean the tolls for the existing Penang Bridge will continue indefinitely even though the cost of the bridge has been recovered many, many times over.
  7. In July 2007, the estimated cost of the second bridge was RM2.7 billion. By October/November 2007, it had crept up to RM3 billion. By January 2008, it was between RM3 billion and RM4 billion. And now, it is at about RM4.3 billion! How much will the final cost come to upon completion of the bridge? (An expert familiar with bridge building told me that the cost of materials for a new bridge, based on the estimated built area, would quite likely be less than RM1 billion. So how do we get RM4.3 billion? Can we have a breakdown of this figure?) How were the contracts awarded to a joint-venture comprising China Harbour Engineering Corp, a unit of the state-owned China Communications Construction Group (CCCG), and United Engineers Malaysia Bhd, also a state-controlled company? The lack of open tenders could lead to inflated contract estimates. Penangites could end up saddled with the cost of the bridge and higher tolls for years to come while the toll revenues go to UEM/Putrajaya. The people of Penang could well have to stump out many times the cost of the new bridge in tolls, just as they have for the existing bridge. And what is the additional cost of making the bridge resistant to major earthquakes?
  8. The new bridge is likely to hurt the fishing industry in the southeast of the island, where fisher folks are already complaining about drastically reduced catches as a result of land reclamation. A Bernama report on 17 January said that the start of the second Penang bridge project had been delayed as the state government wanted to resolve several matters involving fishermen as well as fish and cockle breeders who would be affected by the project. Former chief minister Koh Tsu Koon said the project could affect the livelihood of 1,500 fishermen and the breeders, who were worried the project could threaten the area’s ecosystem. Will this deplete fish stocks and lead to higher seafood prices in Penang, making it affordable only to the elite? Has a study been done on the impact of the bridge on fisheries in the state?
  9. The money spent on the bridge would be better spent on quality public transport, social housing (instead of creating more high-rise slums), public health care and schools.
  10. The projected carbon footprint, the increased traffic, and the impact on global warming of this project is likely to be enormous. How many tons of raw material including metal, concrete, cable, electricity and fuel will be consumed in the construction of the bridge?
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Building new roads and bridges to cope with congestion is not a viable long-term solution. Such infrastructure will rapidly get congested again, and then we are back to square one. There is a limit to the road surface area that Penang Island can take. And how much will all this cost in the long run and how will it affect the quality of life when more and wider roads are built, eating up precious green spaces?

So what is the alternative?

If at all a third link (the ferry service and the Penang Bridge are the first two) is necessary, how about a light rail link parallel to the existing Penang Bridge? This would encourage people to use public transport to commute between the island and the mainland.

This rail link could be connected by buses/trams/light rail to industrial areas and urban centres on the island and on the mainland.

The ferry services should be expanded. Bangkok makes full use of river transport, but Penang has not tapped the full potential of sea-based public transport. More ferry terminals should be set up at different points of the island and on the mainland so that ferries can criss-cross the channel instead of being confined to the Butterworth-George Town route. Buses and trams at the ferry terminals could shuttle people to their ultimate destinations.

What do you think?

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ryan
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ryan

i dont think second penang bridge is great solution to reduce congestion between island and mainland… why not penang ferry service expand their empire.. they can set up a new ferry terminal in batu kawan and batu maung…. so fishing industry will not affected..

passion1
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passion1

Some countries have twin coach buses.Why not use such buses as shuttle bus.
Hong Kong is still proud of her ferry service. Penang should keep its ferry service, because it is a symbol of Penang. Just increase the number of ferries during peak hours.
I think Penang Island should practice like S’pore, where certain types of vehicles with colored number plates cannot be on the road during peak hours. To encourage more use of public transport, on condition bus service is excellent.

astina
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astina

they will never allow for better public transportation.

If they did, how are they gonna milk the public (via toll) for the next 40 years ?

Plus how could they scrap the m’s grand scheme of milo tins on wheels

so they milk us again !

swimpal
Guest

The benefits of a second bridge will be felt fews years from now. But I do agree that the garment should exercise great care of the ecosystem during the building process. It will be great to see a monorail adjacent to the first bridge and linking many parts of the Mainland and Island. This will create many job opportunities as people can commute easily to their work place. It will invite more investors to Penang because of a more efficient public transport system, that will result in more jobs. Before the garment wishes to increase the toll charges, they must… Read more »

globalnomad
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globalnomad

Why not building a parallel fast monorail on stilts?
Way cheaper in construction, service and NO pollution!
And, everybody comes to work in time without smelly shirts. Go to Germany and you will be convinced! But the kid is already kicked into the water. People and the island will suffer even more. The second bridge, not a great idea? I would say, it’s an absolutely stupid idea. I agree with all 10 reasons against it!

djboyz
Guest
djboyz

well as a penang citizen i feel we penang people need this bridge badly. why have build – if you have been to penang just try taking the bridge from 6.45am to 9am and from 4.30pm to 8.30pm (sometime 9.30pm).you can the world worst traffic. – if you say 4.8 billion is a lot i will say u are wrong.don’t just look short term. for people who are working in bayan lepas free trade zone and industrial zone is about 3500 people will benefit the bridge and also other that will new and shorter trip to penang airport. – this… Read more »

sina
Guest
sina

Mr anil u lil backward dont u think? no wonder penang cant be as good as she used to be.

naga
Guest
naga

1.At a cost of 4.8 billion and at a low interest rate of 4% (if you can that rate)the interest payment will amount to 190 million a year. What about the the principal amount? We may have to look at something like 250-300million a year in revenue for the bridge to be viable.Can we get that kind of traffic volume. I doubt the present bridge generates a profit of more than 100million a year.I for one, may not want to use the second bridge considering the longer drive and higher petrol price. 2. There are frequent jams following accidents on… Read more »

ismail
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ismail

The issue is whether contractually the second bridge construction can be stopped>>the China factor makes it ultra sensitive.
Definitely,its not the most competitive pricing as it was negotiated..and there is potentially a billion and a bit savings if an open bid is adopted.No need for foreigners too as there are a few local companies with the resources for the job..UEMB is not one of those companies.
As it is…the concession period for the first bridge will be extended to cover the cost of the second bridge.Toll rates will also have to be increased.
So..what can be done?Nothing I guess..

Transit expert
Guest
Transit expert

I agree with a lot of the things said here. May I crystallise them and add some of my thoughts: 1. No need for 2nd bridge. 2. Length and location of bridge is also seem fishy. Why choose those locations and make it so long and expensive. A lot of already given the answers and they are so convincingly argued. Thank you. 3. Yes. Bring back the ferries, but improve them; better speed, better jetties, more landing points at mainland and island (of course, subject to economic viabilities). In any case, ferries cannot be the main stay. They can supplement… Read more »

fendi
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fendi

I have questions here… to each and everyone of you out there how often do you use the public transport?? When is the last time?? Do you use public transport when ever you goes to work, shopping,etc?? And how many of your family members use public transport – daily??

rhino
Guest

Yes, I have always doubted the truth of the claim that the ferry service is running at a loss. I use the ferry often and it is always running at max. capacity even at 70 cents more expensive than the bridge. There is usually a long queue indicating perhaps that there is a market which they are not making any attempt to tap — and really, i fail to see how overheads can be so high as to kill off the profits. Perhaps, there are unseen figures that i see not? I say, it is time they reveal to members… Read more »

Lucy
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Lucy

Apart from the obvious reason (corruption), I cannot understand why none of these past and present government officials can come up with a COMPREHENSIVE public-transport plan for Penang. So many better ideas than a monorail or a second bridge have been expressed–even here! Adding the Rapid Penang bus fleet was a good start, but who is addressing the big picture in the new State government? Do you have confidence in Chow Kon Yeow, the new Traffic Management and Environment Committee Chairman for Penang? I hope the new Penang NGO Traffic and Urban Issues Workgroup can put pressure on him and… Read more »

Tan TE
Guest
Tan TE

I am a doctor and several years ago, I treated a patient from Penang Port Commission. I asked him why the ferry service was deteriorating (as I was using it to commute to SP Hospital). He said that it was instructions from the State Govt to reduce efficiency for the ferry so that more vehicles will use the bridge – for obvious political/financial reasons. I feel if the ferry service could improve (much cheaper than building another bridge), more vehicle will switch to using it thus negating the need for an expensive bridge; but as we all know the politics… Read more »

HRH Raja Mongrel
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HRH Raja Mongrel

Agree lah.

Maybe Penang should put up a train service like PATH > Nre Jersey/New York?

Royal Mongrel @ No Hole Barred
http://rajamongrel.blogspot.com/

winson
Guest
winson

If Penang were to maintain the ferry service and the tramway it will be one of the most unique island in this region. I guess no other country has the tramway except England and some in Europe.

And fendi, i agree that it is not fair to compare Penang 30 years ago. But then, it is also not fair to allow Penang to be as it is today. Having increased number of population is not an excuse to allow that.

Engineer
Guest
Engineer

The traffic situation in PG is just horrendous. Cause is simple: ppl drives, one person per vehicle. Imagine a company like, say, AGILENT, which has an amount of employees of about 3,000, whereby almost each of these workers drives their own vehicle to work everyday and then factor that with hundreds of companies nearby, you get a ridiculous amount of vehicles plying around in Free Trade Zone (FTZ) alone. Public transportation exist, but buses like Rapid Penang do not even ply crucial areas like FTZ routes in Bayan Lepas, the zone where traffic is one of the heaviest in the… Read more »

christina anne
Guest
christina anne

all said and done……..i prefer that the public transport be better organised for optimum use. this will cost the rakyat less in the long run.

rhino
Guest

Are we going to stand by and watch our new governent being swept away by the BN cajoling and bullying plus that of salesmen selling their wares of course!

Let not the spark of fire we saw in the Han Chiang rallies die out. We voted for you because we thought you feel the people’s strife and share the people’s spirit for change.

Are you going to go down in history as the government who did not do enough but allow the wrong long bridge to bleed the future generations of Penangites?

Warren
Guest
Warren

The second bridge might not be as harmful as it seems to be stated by the author. First of all, the new bridge will eventually bring new development site in both Penang Island and Butterworth. Which means that people from the island might move to the opposite bank and buy houses there as it is cheaper. Further more, it might creates more jobs due to more development. Economically, it really benefits the state. Secondly, the building of the new bridge is the turning point of whether the state can attract new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This is because FDI that… Read more »

rhino
Guest

A high high price to pay for the wrong long bridge… by many generations to come.

rhino
Guest

“We can afford it?”. I don’t think so — no way! 1. Does anyone honestly believe that by 2011 the toll for this bridge will be in the region of RM9 as hinted somewhere? I personally see it hitting the RM20 mark or more! 2. Don’t you think that the toll for the current bridge will also naturally make a quantum leap? 3. I say generations of Penangites will be bled by this bridge to pay back for “someone’s investment” and of course, “someone’s blunder or failure to stay vigilant”. 4. Can we afford to lose what little there is… Read more »

Angela Ooi
Guest
Angela Ooi

Didn’t I read somewhere in MT that China quoted 2billion for the bridge…?? The rakyat knows mega projects equals mega profits for some individuals, and the companies concerned of course!

Philip O
Guest
Philip O

Very thought provoking. How I wish this was debated in public before the 2nd Bridge project was given the go ahead. Anyway since we are on a theoretical exercise, let me contribute my bits. I am from KL and have driven twice this year to Penang. The Penang Bridge is too cramped and over-used. The original planners failed to forcast the rapid growth of Penang/Prai. Hence, we either expand the existing bridge spending lesser sum by adding additional 3 lanes on each side or we go for a totally new 2nd bridge. This is to cater to ever expanding Penang… Read more »

donplaypuks
Guest

It might cost a lot to cancel the 2nd Penang Bridge contract now that UEM claims it has the plans ready. Remember, how much was it, $300 million? compensation Samy Velu approved for Gerbang Perdana, even though work had been suspended for over a year, for that crooked bridge over troubled waters leading to halfway into the Straits of Johor. So, what we should do is petition the government for an open international tender so we can be comfortable with the cost.What say you Netto? With the support of the new Penang Govt, DAP/PAS/PKR we should be able to get… Read more »