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 fz.com
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.