GEORGE TOWN, Aug 9 – Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has asked former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak not to mislead the public by distorting what he described as two distinctly different infrastructure projects – the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) Highway and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).
He said there were major differences between a highway and a railway and comparing the cost between two distinctly different infrastructure projects was like comparing an apple to an orange.
The current PIL 1 cost was only preliminary and would only be finalised after open competitive tenders had been awarded to qualified work package contractors, he said.
“In contrast, the ECRL project award was finalised without an open competitive tender and, as we know, the project was funded by a strings-attached loan from China whereby a Chinese contractor will get part of the project,” he told reporters today at the lobby of the Penang Legislative Assembly.
Chow said the cost of the ECRL, reportedly RM66 billion, was expected to increase if it included the cost of land acquisition, which was a government cost.
“Without strong grounds for a like-for-like comparison, the public could be misled by distorted assertions by certain individuals who compare the cost per km between a highway and a railway,” he said.
Chow, who is Padang Kota assemblyman, was responding to Najib’s statement yesterday condemning the cost of the PIL 1 project which the latter claimed to be exorbitant compared with the ECRL project and the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) project.
Chow said the PIL 1 would also be fully self-funded through land reclamation and the reclamation cost also would be bound by the contractor.
“PIL 1 is fully funded with revenue (income) generated from the Penang South Reclamation Project but ECRL is financed by a foreign loan to be repaid with taxpayers money,” he said.
In comparing PIL 1 with Kidex, Chow said Kidex was a fully-elevated highway with four lanes whereas the PIL 1 alignment was mostly a tunnel with the cost of the tunnel is at least twice more than an elevated highway.
“If we only consider the PIL 1 elevated section unit rate and multiply it with the length of Kidex, the construction cost will be almost similar in 2013. In fact, the estimated cost of the PIL 1 will be even cheaper than Kidex at today’s prices,” he said.
The proposed PIL 1 highway project will be implemented under the first phase of the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
PTMP is a state-initiated project costing an estimated RM46 billion and features an undersea tunnel linking the island to the mainland, highways, LRT, monorail as well as extensive bus connectivity on both the island and the mainland. — Bernama