Tuesday March 19, 2013
CAP willing to lead against tunnel project
By WINNIE YEOH
GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is willing to take the lead to start a campaign against the proposed 6.5km undersea tunnel and three major road projects in the state.
CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the association would do so if there was enough public support.
Slamming the state government for pushing through the RM6.3bil projects, he said they were not a long-term solution to traffic woes but would make Penang “unhealthy and unliveable”.
“Countless studies have proven that building more roads or even widening existing ones are only short-term solutions as the new roads will invariably attract more traffic.
“Soon the roads will be congested again,” Idris said, adding that this will be sooner in the case of Penang where 100,000 new vehicles hit the roads every year.
He also said the second Penang bridge is not operational yet.
“Given that its impact on traffic is yet to be seen, one wonders why the Chief Minister (Lim Guan Eng) is in such haste to push through the construction of an undersea tunnel that could be beset with risks and adverse effects,” he said at the CAP office here yesterday.
He said tunnel fires had occurred at the Mont Blanc Tunnel in Europe, Interstate 5 Tunnel in California, Taiwan Snow Mountain Tunnel and the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzer-land.
“Such an accident could turn into a national disaster if it happens in the proposed undersea tunnel,” said Idris, who showed images of tunnel fires to push across his point.
He said the state government should have some humility and consult the people first before announcing the projects.
Idris said public forums and discussions were redundant and “only served to legitimise” the projects.
The projects comprise the 6.5km Gurney Drive-Bagan Ajam undersea tunnel, a 4.6km bypass linking Air Itam to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, 12km Tanjung Bungah-Teluk Bahang paired road and a 4.2km road between Gurney Drive and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
Idris said terms agreed for the projects were controversial as the builders will get a 30-year concession period to collect toll at the tunnel and 44ha of reclaimed land as payment.
He said the land would appreciate tremendously in value in future which he claimed would benefit the builders many times over their initial cost of construction.