Penang commissions study for transport masterplan

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GEORGE TOWN: The state government has commissioned a RM3.2 million study for an integrated Penang transport masterplan to seek a practical solution to the worsening traffic congestion.

Following a request for proposal (RFP) called between March 12 and April 30 last year, the study tender was awarded yesterday to AJC Planning Consultants Sdn Bhd, which is a partnership between international engineering consultancy group, Halcrow, Singapore Cruise Centre (SCC) and AJC.

Halcrow is one of the UK’s leading consultancies specialising in the provision of planning, design and management services for infrastructure development worldwide with interests in the transportation, water, maritime and property sectors.

The company has commissions in over 70 countries from a network of more than 90 offices with over 6,000 staff, according to a representative of the firm.

While Halcrow has a technical lead on transport planning and infrastructure, SCC has experience in ferry and terminal operations and will focus on water transport, he said. AJC’s expertise is in land planning.

Working papers were also submitted by five other companies — AECOM Perunding Sdn Bhd, Melewar Metro Penang Sdn Bhd, Jurutera Zaaba Sdn Bhd, Systra MVA Singapore Pte Ltd and Perunding Trafik Klasik Sdn Bhd.

At the agreement signing ceremony between AJC and the state government, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was working closely with the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) on the possibility of incorporating a water transportation system into the Penang transport masterplan.

NCIA and the state government are contributing RM1.5 million and RM1.7 million respectively towards the study which will be completed by March 31 next year.

The masterplan will also study the feasibility of the proposals for two RM4 billion road projects namely the 4.2km inner ring road connecting Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and a 4.6km tunnel road linking Paya Terubong and Bandar Baru Air Itam to the expressway.

“The transport masterplan is meant for the next 20 years until 2030 and public consultation will play an important role in this study,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, state local government committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the study will also look into previous transportation studies which were carried out but not implemented or acted upon under the previous state government.

Chow said most of the studies were over 10 years old and AJC would evaluate these studies to see if they could be incorporated into the masterplan.

“This study will not collect dust like the others as it is our key thrust to implement the transport masterplan. We will leave the funding of these projects to the chief minister,” said Chow.

Lim reiterated that the RM4 billion roads/tunnel proposal would not be implemented if the technical specifications showed that they would be unsuitable and if there were funding implications.

He said Penang has a population of 1.6 million and 2 million vehicles on the road in the state, and George Town was undergoing rapid expansion into an international city, which compounded the need for alternative links and roads.

“There is only so much you can do in Penang, but the people must be given a choice of using public transportation or their own transportation,” he added.

When completed by end-March next year, the transport masterplan will deliver an overall executive summary, strategic level plan supported by subsidiary plans covering identified areas and a water transport pre-feasibility study.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, April 28, 2011.