PENANG: April 27, 2008 By CHRISTINA CHIN and DERRICK VINESH
Four days after being told of delays in the second Penang bridge project, the state could face further setbacks – the monorail and Penang Outer Ring Road projects may not take off.
Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the mega projects have yet to be approved by the Federal Government and have not reached the “approval stage”.
“There are many stages and procedures to follow before the projects can be approved, including land acquisition issues and tenders.
“I cannot give a commitment on the two projects as they have yet to reach the level where approval is being considered,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after chairing the state’s first Federal Action Council meeting at the Federal Government building here yesterday.
On a monorail proposal by the Melewar Industrial Group (MIG) to the state government recently, Nor Mohamed said it had nothing to do with the Federal Government.
The report quoted sources as saying the state may carry out a monorail project on its own to speed things up and not wait for the Federal Government to do it.
However, that could run into problems as licensing and privatisation of all rail-based transport come under the Federal Government.
Later, at a meet-the-people function, Nor Mohamed said the Federal Government would not scrap the second Penang Bridge project, even though the cost had increased by 22%, from RM3.5bil to RM4.3bil.
He said he had not seen any evidence that the project needed to be reviewed.
“Of course, we have to make sure the project’s designs are cleverly done to minimise costs. But, the project is still on,” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on April 22 that the second Penang Bridge project would be delayed by nine months due to land acquisition, design and rising costs.
He also said the Government was reviewing a number of projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan due to the escalating price of materials.
The proposed 24km bridge, which will link the island and Seberang Prai, is scheduled to open in January 2011.
On Rapid Penang, Nor Mohamed said its fleet of 150 buses would be expanded in phases to cater to the outskirts on the mainland.