PERMATANG PAUH, May 6 – Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced that the proposed Penang Light Rail Transit (LRT) project would be funded by his government. He acknowledged that the previous federal governments had not provided enough funding to address the traffic congestion on the island, which had become a pressing issue. Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Madani Open House 2023 at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Penang Branch Campus on Saturday, Anwar stated that he would hold a meeting with the state government to discuss the matter within one to two weeks.

To reduce the scope of the earlier proposed reclamation project to fund the LRT, Anwar stated that it would be restudied. He emphasized that the traffic issue had yet to be addressed despite two bridges, and that the state had repeatedly requested funding. According to Anwar, the scheme has received consent from the Council of Ministers, including the Minister of Transport, Anthony Loke. Anwar also stated that he met with Ministry of Finance officials to find a better method to allocate the funds, as it requires the intervention of the Federal government to expedite the process.

Anwar stated at an event in Bukit Mertajam that the federal government would provide funds for a large-scale project that would enable the Penang government to implement the LRT immediately. He emphasized the importance of the project, stating that it was not because he was a Penangite, but because it was a pressing need. Additionally, Anwar expressed his awareness of the grievances of locals and fishermen in the southern coast of Penang Island, where three islands are proposed to be reclaimed.

Anwar highlighted the urgency of addressing the congestion in Penang, stating that it was excessive and required measures to deal with it. He questioned why Penang, one of the largest cities in the country, does not have an LRT service when the Klang Valley has MRT and LRT. Additionally, Anwar ordered a review of the Penang South Island Project (PSI) and a reduction in its scope. He acknowledged the complaints about the sea reclamation project and stated that the Federal Government had not provided enough funds for urgent infrastructure development for Penang in recent years.

The LRT project, which covers 29.9 kilometers of rail line with 27 stations from Komtar to Penang International Airport and three more areas involving reclaimed islands in the south of Penang, has an estimated cost of RM8 billion. An application to obtain a loan and guarantee amounting to RM2 billion in relation to the LRT project was rejected by the Ministry of Finance in 2020. The LRT project is part of the Penang Master Transportation Plan (PTMP), which includes the 6.5-kilometer undersea tunnel project and three main roads, with a total cost of RM46 billion.

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