KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 13): Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has strongly refuted claims that the cost of the state's proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway has further escalated to an exorbitantly priced figure of RM9 billion as claimed.
Chow said the assertion that "PIL 1 is the most expensive highway to be built in history" is invalid and made with ill intention.
"The cost that has been officially announced is RM7.5 billion. PIL 1 cannot be compared to other highways as each highway is dissimilar in many ways.
"It is for this reason that the per km cost of construction cannot be worked out on simple arithmetic as each highway has its own unique features which are needed to cater for the local conditions," he explained in a statement today.
Chow added that other considerations in calculating the cost are the unique engineering approach incorporated in this proposed highway due to site conditions, technical requirements, and minimizing social and environmental impact.
"We would also like to assert that PIL 1 work packages will be awarded via open tender for full transparency and equity.
"The funding is designed in such a way that no tax payers' money will be utilised to fund the project, rather it will be fully funded through Penang South Reclamation (PSR), which is owned by the Penang State Government and not by any developer or contractor.
"The Penang State Government wishes to clarify that there is no cost escalation for the PIL 1 project, as alleged in the Facebook post," he said.
Chow was refuting recent claims by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who in a Facebook post last week called for Putrajaya to scrap the project in Penang as it could save the government some RM9 billion, which would be more than enough to settle Felda's RM8 billion debt.
The 19.5km PIL 1 highway, under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), is mainly proposed to alleviate the heavy traffic load on the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (LCE) and adjacent arterials such as Pengkalan Weld, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan Jelutong and Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.
The PIL1 highway is also expected to improve accessibility to various areas along the north-south corridor of Penang Island, significantly shortening north-south travel time to only 15 minutes from Gurney Drive to the airport, favourably compared with the current 45 minutes required under normal traffic conditions on the LCE.