Official: Penang’s Pan Island Link to be built in phases, second highway already in pipeline

Opalyn Mok
·4-min read
State Exco Zairil Khir Johari delivering his speech during the Involvement Session of the 2021 State Assembly Sitting at St Giles Wembley in Penang, March 29, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
State Exco Zairil Khir Johari delivering his speech during the Involvement Session of the 2021 State Assembly Sitting at St Giles Wembley in Penang, March 29, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, March 29 — Penang will construct the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) in phases starting with a 2.4km stretch in Bayan Baru, said state exco Zairil Khir Johari.

The infrastructure and transport committee chairman said the first phase of the PIL1 is to connect Jalan Tun Dr Awang to Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu at the Free Industrial Zone (FIZ) 4.

“With this part of the alignment built, it will reduce the congestion at Jalan Tengah, Jalan Baru and around the FIZ area,” he said.

He said the overall length for PIL1 was 19.5km and will link Gurney Drive to the FIZ 4 area.

The project received its environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval from the Department of Environment on April 10, 2019, he said.

“The EIA approval was further extended for another two years to April 10 of 2022,” he said.

The state government has also planned for a Pan Island Link 2A, which is the main link between the reclaimed islands of Penang South Reclamation (PSR) and the main island, he said.

“The proposed PIL2A is a 5.3km viaduct to improve traffic flow around PSR and so as not to impact the traffic flow in the area,” he said.

He said Island A of the PSR project will take between six and nine years to be fully reclaimed.

Zairil said the reclaimed land will then be sold to fund the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The reclamation for island A is a joint venture with the project delivery partner of the project, SRS Consortium that will have a 70-per cent stake while the state will own 30 per cent stake but without financial risks.

“SRS will bear all investments, financial risks and financing of the reclamation,” he said.

He said 100 per cent liability for the corporate guarantee is on Gamuda Holdings, the main shareholder of SRS Consortium, which must bear all risks for any arising issues.

“The reclaimed land will not be in caveat to the bank,” he said in reply to a question raised by Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong.

He admitted that there might still be some risks involved for the project but stressed that it is minimal through the instrument that was agreed with SRS.

SRS is a massive reclamation project to reclaim three islands off the southern coast of Penang island to fund the RM46 billion PTMP.

Zairil said the reclamation for Island A would cost billions and the state could not afford it, thus the need for the JV with SRS.

He said the project will be based on a smart city concept and will be able to create 300,000 job opportunities by 2050 while creating more green area for commercial, housing and tourism projects.

He said PSR is yet to be started as the state is still awaiting Environmental Management Plan (EMP) approval.

“We are expecting a reply from DoE on the decision for the EMP approval soon,” he said.

Separately, he said Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is now preparing the Detailed Masterplan Design and Urban Design Guideline for the project and is expected to be finalised in May 2021.

Planning permission for reclamation works of Island A of the PSR from PLANMalaysia was already approved on March 3 this year, he said.

“We have submitted the application for planning permission for topside of the reclaimed land was submitted to PLANMalaysia on January 12 and distributed to 31 relevant government departments and agencies,” he said.

He said PLANMalaysia is expected to give briefings to the Technical Planning Committee at the end of March this year before presenting it to the state planning committee.

He the state planning committee will then present it to the National Physical Planning Council which is expected to be held in July.

Zairil said the PTMP involved many different components and the state government is considering other options to start the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

“We want it to be implemented concurrently with the PSR project so we are looking at funding options,” he said.

He said if the state were to reclaim Island A first to raise the funds for the LRT, it may take up to 15 years before the LRT can be built.

Zairil also said the state and SRS Consortium are now in discussions with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to finalise the location of the LRT station near the Penang International Airport.

“The location of the station will need to be finalised to obtain full approval from the Land and Public Transport Agency,” he said.

The process to implement the Bayan Lepas LRT line includes obtaining the Railway Scheme approval, EIA, Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment.

“As at now, EIA and SIA for Komtar to Permatang Damar Laut, which is segment one to four, including the TIA and HIA have been approved,” he said.

He said the state will still need to obtain the EIA and SIA approvals for the fifth segment.

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