Penang tunnel could lead to even more congestion


The public display on the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 Detailed EIA has apparently been relocated from Level 4 to Level 16 in Komtar. I am not sure why. Doesn’t seem like much of a “public display” to me. Anyway, the display ends tomorrow, for what it is worth. Activists, however, are asking for a two-month extension to the public feedback period, which expires next week. The 800-page report in three volumes is long, technical and complicated and most people are still unaware of it. A hard copy costs RM500 while soft copies of the files (totalling 666MB! – interesting number, eh?) are too large to send over the internet.

Meanwhile, the Pulau Tikus state assembly rep has come out expressing concern about the traffic impact of the proposed cross-channel tunnel. “We cannot compare ourselves to Hong Kong because there are only 50 cars per 1,000 population whereas Penang has more cars registered than the total population,” she said.

This is a report from

Penang DAP rep: Improve public transport before talking about undersea tunnel
First Published: 5:16pm, Mar 05, 2014
Last Updated: 5:16pm, Mar 05, 2014
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by Sangeetha Amarthalingam

GEORGE TOWN (March 5): The Penang government should focus on increasing public transportation and providing pedestrian-safe infrastructure before talking about the 6.5km undersea tunnel, a DAP state assemblyperson said today.

Pulau Tikus representative Yap Soo Huey said the tunnel linking the island to the mainland was ranked “low priority” in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) compared to improving the safety and comfort of its road for pedestrians.

Yap’s statement comes after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s over the weekend hit out at critics of the tunnel planned between Bagan Ajam and Bagan Jermal was needed.

Lim said the tunnel was needed as it would help reduce congestion on the island and be a catalyst to economic development on the northern parts of the state.

Speaking at a press conference today, Yap said there is need to improve public transportation before considering the tunnel project.

“The PTMP highlights that the state government should immediately focus on improving the safety and comfort of its road for pedestrians,” she said.

“It explains that having pedestrian-friendly roads are a pre-requisite for effective public transport systems. Using public transport will become more attractive when the roads are more pedestrian-friendly.

“Another immediate focus should be to improve public transport amenities such as bus stops, route maps, time tables and better access to bus information. The PTMP includes trams between George Town and the airport.

‘Don’t put the cart before the horse’

“Therefore you can have a tunnel but you must prioritise public transportation. One must not put the cart before the horse,” she added.

The PTMP was conducted by Halcrow Consultants Sdn Bhd, AJC Planning and Singapore Cruise Centre Pte Ltd at a cost of RM3.2 million featuring integrated strategies over the years that will cost the state RM27 million to implement.

Yap said currently 10,000 new vehicles are registered in Penang every month and the population is expected to grow from 1.5 million now to 2.5 million in 2030.

“Even with an additional link between Penang island and the mainland, severe traffic congestion is expected if effort is not put in to reduce the need to use private cars,” she said.

She said if the state could build an undersea tunnel without federal funding then it should be able to build public transportation via the same arrangement.

“Considering what the critical needs are to prevent Penang island from slowing into a traffic gridlock, it seems wise to use land swap deals to fund pedestrian-friendly public infrastructure and provide capital investment for trams before funding a tunnel,” she said.

She was referring to Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd (CZB)’s RM6.3 billion contract to build a 4.2km bypass from Gurney Drive and Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a 4.6km bypass between Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and Bandar Baru Air Itam, a 12km paired-road from Jalan Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, and the tunnel.

She said the first phase of these projects’ Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be submitted to the state executive council end of the month.

Months before the signing of the contract between the state and CZB last October, the former received criticism from all quarters due to the land swap deal, and the impending social and environmental problems.

“Penang has more cars than Hong Kong’

Yap also commented on the chief minister’s observation that Hong Kong had three tunnels and “many” bridges.

“We cannot compare ourselves to Hong Kong because there are only 50 cars per 1,000 population whereas Penang has more cars registered than the total population.

“Hong Kong has 5,546 buses, 164 trams and 18,138 taxis and we only have 320 buses. We need to invest in pedestrian-friendly towns and implement public transport first,” she said.

Yap stressed that the EIA on the tunnel must consider the rise in traffic and population resulting from Seri Tanjung Pinang 2 (STP2) development.

She added that STP2 alone was expected to bring in a population of 202,500 people, a 30% increase over the current population on Penang island.

On top of that, she said, between 11,000 and 14,000 more vehicles are expected to travel in and out of the new site.

Yap said the additional population and vehicles generated did not include the same from other developments that might be planned for the reclaimed land along the coast of Gurney Drive.

She questioned whether the area was able to cope with additional cars from the undersea tunnel.

Hence, the need to take into account the added numbers when the tunnel was complete and not on present figures, she stressed.

Tunnel only possible if STP2 proceeds

“Failure by CZB to consider the STP2’s detailed EIA that was being exhibited now would otherwise mean that the tunnel study was flawed.

“The undersea tunnel is only possible if the STP2 proceeds because its funding is by a land swap deal between the state government and CZB. The 110-acre land that is to be given is part of land to be reclaimed under the proposed STP2.

“The public viewing for the STP2 exhibition ends on March 7 but the response from the people is slow. I spoke to a few people about the project who were either unsure or knew nothing about it.

“People do not seem bothered about this project although it will forever the change the northern coastline and increase population and vehicles,” she said.

The exhibition can be viewed at State DOE office, Level 4, Komtar (Penang Island Municipal Council), State Library in Seberang Jaya, Tanjung Tokong police station, National Library in Kuala Lumpur, and DOE Headquarters in Putrajaya.

While the public viewing of the STP2 exhibition ends on Friday, the deadline for public feedback which could be submitted online to the Department of Environment is March 14.

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8 Mar 2014 6.58pm

Anil, what kind of caring Cat Penang Govt pushing for this mega project with a statement in DEIA “Fishermen need to fish else where.” Anil, do fishing in KOMTAR is it? All I see is current pro PR , supply chain in in Penang monopolise by one race and loose faith Umno div members will gain to be rich n richer. That’s all. Poor will be poorer. Fishermen ?

7 Mar 2014 9.24pm

scribd –>

7 Mar 2014 4.09pm

Use dropbox to send large files

7 Mar 2014 2.39pm

kee, you’re spot-on and that is why the taxi service in Penang is not able to charge fares using the meter. The country/state must provide more assistance just like what they are doing to the Penang ferry service, the railways and the national airline MAS to keep them afloat.

7 Mar 2014 2.05am

” The 800-page report in three volumes is long, technical and complicated and most people are still unaware of it. A hard copy costs RM500 while soft copies of the files (totalling 666MB! – interesting number, eh?) are too large to send over the internet.” What a lame excuse and total joker !!! Here some suggestion –> Just put the report online over googledrive, dropbox, mega, scribd or other secure web hosting services (similiar concept video with youtube) or just make a torrent file of it. break the report into chapter so layman people easy to digest. Anil, give me… Read more »

7 Mar 2014 6.53pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Here is the link:


(Torrent client required)
b. magnet:?xt=urn:btih:8d0c2ac7d2a756d1ea991d55c773fc640c4d2565&dn=7e5600be

7 Mar 2014 12.22am

Ken, please allow me to speak for the taxi drivers. I asked the taxi drivers before and they said penang is such a small island and if they use meter they say they hardly can cari makan. They have a family to raise too. I know this guy he quits being a taxi driver because too long sitting in the car has caused him very bad backache… Ps See, the rep in DAP/Pakatan dares to oppose what they think is not right but in Barang Naik Party, everyone is expected to lick … and carry … can see the difference… Read more »

7 Mar 2014 5.25pm
Reply to  kee

It seem a Pro PR s condoning the taxi drivers to break the law by not using meter. This is the same characteristic of the State top leaders that also (allegedly) condone breaking of rules by allowing 72k unit to be sold for 200k and to be sold direct by developer instaed of going through the state housing list. Now we have finger licking good Pro PR encouraging such tactic. Yes we really see the difference and I wonder whether this is right or wrong. Would it not be more appropriate on how to find solutions to raise the income… Read more »

6 Mar 2014 6.19pm

Cheers to YB Yap of pulau tikus for speaking out.

6 Mar 2014 2.35pm

Public transportation is under the purview of the central govt. if I am not wrong. Do not expect the traffic congestion and other transport problems on the island to be resolved anytime soon. Take for example the taxi service which if properly regulated perhaps could help to mitigate the traffic congestion. Reasonable structured fares going by the meter will encourage more commuters to travel by taxi. But up till today the taxi service is not able to charge fares using the meter.

6 Mar 2014 5.32pm
Reply to  Ken

The key is enforcement

semuanya OK kot
semuanya OK kot
6 Mar 2014 1.32pm

Our authorities know very well that there is an alternate approach to development. They can see this in certain small countries in Europe, Central America and Pacific. Note: If they want to visit these places, they should do so at their own expense or using online means (e.g. Google Street View).

More roads mean more junctions, jams. That leads to even more cars and related business. That is why the worshippers of “developmental economics” promote cars while undermining public transport and bicycles. It certainly looks like greed will remain unchecked until climate change wipes out most of us.

6 Mar 2014 3.26pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

How you you define greed. (Excessive desire to have more of something). If there is no corruption and more transparency then there is hope not greed. Greed or to have an excessive desire to have more is one of the expectation of many in this world. Greed help us to earn more and in turn create more investment opportunities and employment, which in turn make the people standard of living higher, which make the country richer, which in turn make the people and country progress and move forward and which in turn and in turn create more and more for… Read more »

semuanya OK kot
semuanya OK kot
8 Mar 2014 1.38pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Ananrs, you mean “To be rich is glorious”? Right on, ma!

6 Mar 2014 12.23pm

Father should remind son to keep ballooning ego in check. though tunnel is one rare infrastructure that does not need federal’s approval, proceeding solely on this reason is digging own political grave.

6 Mar 2014 12.17pm

What ‘context’ do you expect your reader to provide in their comment?

6 Mar 2014 2.06pm
Reply to  rikishi

Maybe he is trolling. 🙂

6 Mar 2014 12.17pm

YOU CAN’T BUILD A TRAM WITHOUT THE FEDERAL GOVT!!! YOU CAN’T DO BUSES WITHOUT FEDERAL GOVT!. What are people talking about when they argue public transport over the tunnel??? If LGE is guilty of comparing apples and oranges, the critics are comparing fruits with garbage, one can be done, the other cannot..

eng hock
eng hock
6 Mar 2014 12.37pm
Reply to  bigjoe99

this one cannot that one cannot so where is your spirits to ubah for better future ?

rules and regulations are created by people. they can be revised as and when needed to be in tune with people’s aspirations ?

can penang rise in physical lifestyle infrastructures (condos, shopping malls, motorised vehicles etc) the aspirations of the masses ? or are they imposed upon the masses to conform to the politikus & developers guru$ ?

6 Mar 2014 2.09pm
Reply to  bigjoe99

Actually its a fair comparison.

Hong Kong has less cars but more cross channel tunnels/bridges.
Penang has more cars but less cross channel tunnels/bridges.

Conclusion: Hong Kong has too many tunnels/bridges or Penang has too few.

6 Mar 2014 3.46pm
Reply to  SunnyOoi

Are you sure HK has less cars than Penang. HK car pop may even exceed Malaysia`s car. Google and check it out

eng hock
eng hock
6 Mar 2014 12.16pm

it’s better to develop the minds of the people not to over-rely on private transport rather than to over develop physical infrastructure harmful to the environment.

Plant more shady trees to shield us from hot sun and hazy particles to throw away the excuses we need to ride in air-con private vehicles.

More walking/cycling hence less carbon burning to reduce obesity and illness.

my thumbs up to Yap of Pulau Tikus. Yap Yap Hooray !