Roger Teoh, a PhD postgraduate student at the Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College London, has written an excellent critique of SRS Consortium’s mega project.
It has sent proponents of the backward plan scrambling on the defensive to come up with unconvincing rebuttals. One of them has even come up with a misleading online petition in a desperate attempt to rally public support for the SRS shopping list.
First some clarification of the misleading terminology. The 2016 RM46bn SRS Consortium shopping list is NOT the Penang transport masterplan. The masterplan is actually the 2013 Halcrow masterplan, which projects the infrastructure cost at RM27bn (and that includes the RM6bn tunnel and three highways, which the state government wanted Halcrow to put in).
Penang NGOs are not against the Penang transport masterplan. In fact, it was the NGOs that asked the state to çome up with a transport masterplan in the first place. And the state then engaged Halcrow to come up with one. What the NGOs are against is the inflated RM46bn shopping list that SRS later came up with.
The 2016 developer-driven SRS shopping list departs radically from Halcrow’s Penang transport masterplan. The bus rapid transit and modern trams component for the entire state is just RM8bn under the Halcrow masterplan – the same cost as one single LRT line under SRS’ shopping fantasy. Or the same cost as one single highway under the SRS list.
Yes, SRS Consortium comprises two Penang-based developers each with a 20% stake on top of Gamuda’s 60% stake. Why are developers even in the consortium, which was selected as project delivery partner, in the first place? What do these developers know about transport planning?
It is true that a few NGOs are represented in the Penang Transport Council, which has not met for ages. In the council, these few NGO reps (including me) raised numerous serious objections such as conflict of interest. But for the most part, our views were ignored. Most of the major top-down decisions had already been made elsewhere and the Penang Transport Council was presented with a fait accompli.
Roger points to the over 300,000 people to be squeezed into 4,500 acres of reclaimed land (off the southern coast of Penang Island), which would make it extremely high density, .
To me, the key question is where are these 300,000 people coming from given that the Penang population is growing only marginally and only 20% of the homes on these three islands will supposedly be ‘affordable’ (affordable to whom?). Who are the wealthy individuals who are going to buy the remaining 80% of these homes?
Make sure you read Roger’s piece here.