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Penang LRT project set to start by year-end

Publish date: Tue, 30 May 2023, 07:32 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Works on phase one of Penang's first light rail transit (LRT) project is expected to begin at the end of this year.

This follows several matters agreed upon between the federal government, represented by Transport Minister Anthony Loke and the state government, represented by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, during a meeting here this afternoon.

Among them was to expand the alignment from the Penang International Airport (PIA) to Tanjung Bungah instead of the previous alignment that stopped in Komtar.

Another important matter was the location of the LRT depot at an existing site on Penang island as opposed to earlier proposed site on the Silicon Island, to be reclaimed under the Penang South Island (PSI) project.

Loke said since the site of the depot has been agreed upon, the project could now be speed up without the need to wait for the completion of the reclaimed land.

"We could not proceed with discussion prior to this without an agreed site for the depot, which is an important component for the LRT.

"Now that it has been ironed out, we can proceed with discussions on the alignment and cost before we bring this to the Finance Ministry for a decision.

"If all goes well, we hope to complete all discussions with the relevant stakeholders by year's end so that we can call for tender and begin works then," he told newsmen during a visit to Sia Boey, the proposed LRT station for Komtar.

He was accompanied by Chow.

Elaborating, Loke said the new alignment from Komtar to Tanjung Bungah would be put up for public display to get the people's feedback.

"There is no issue for the PIA to Komtar route as we the federal government had made a decision in principle to implement it.

"Since we are expanding the route, the new route will have to be put up for display," he said, adding that, in total, there would be 27 stations along the 29km alignment route.

During a visit to the state recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had said that the federal government had agreed to provide additional funds to the Penang government to expedite the development of the LRT project in the state.

He had acknowledged that traffic congestion had been a longstanding issue in Penang and that the state was in need of a LRT system as a solution.

Anwar had said that he would hold a discussion with the Penang government soon to find a solution and formulate how to fund the project.

According to Loke, the LRT project, to be undertaken by MRT Corp, will be federal funded.

"We expect the first phase to complete in five years time," he added.

Loke also explained that the choice of alignment, which ran parallel to existing road, was to minimise any land acquisition.

There had been issue raised before this on why the alignment had not served populated area.

On possible opposition by the non-governmental organisations (NGO) for the extended alignment to Tanjung Bungah, Loke said they are prepared to listen to any concerns raised.

On whether the government planned to implement a policy to restrict cars to encourage people to use the LRT, he said "let's cross the bridge first".

"We need to ensure that we have an alternative for the people.

"After that, it is up to the state government and the local authorities to decide on any policies," he added.

Penang had proposed a LRT as part of its multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.

The state is looking to implement the PTMP, which will comprise an LRT, three paired roads and an undersea tunnel to solve traffic problems.

Last October, the state government announced that it had received eight submissions from local and international consortiums for the Bayan Lepas LRT project pre-qualification exercise.

The pre-qualification registration exercise for the LRT project, which was conducted from July 25 to Aug 19, and further extended to Oct 7, saw 45 companies registering interest and purchasing the pre-qualification documents.

The RFP tender was supposed to open early this year.

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