Saturday March 2, 2013
NGOs ‘no’ to Penang mega projects
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government’s mega infrastructure projects have received the thumbs down from the state’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Representatives of the NGOs held a meeting on the state’s mega infrastructure projects with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in Komtar here yesterday and the two-hour session grew tense as the NGOs and Lim tried to get their points across.
The RM8bil worth of infrastructure projects comprise an undersea tunnel linking the island and the mainland, plus three highways on the island, which were planned to resolve traffic congestion.
Lim said the state government believed that public transportation was an ideal alternative to move people but it was under the purview of the Federal Government.
“I know you want access charges to be imposed for those who enter Penang, like the Singapore system. But, we cannot agree although it was suggested in the (Penang) Transport Master Plan. If you want to hammer us for that, go ahead,” Lim said.
Members of the Penang Forum, a coalition of progressive public interest civil society groups, called on the state government to focus on “moving people, not cars” instead.
They also questioned the rush to implement the mega projects when priority should be given to public transportation.
Blogger Anil Netto said the state should appoint an independent consultant and not let the contractor do so, otherwise the project would surely be approved.
He said the push for the mega projects was against Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto that stressed on public transportation.
Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) council member Rebecca Wilkinson-Duckett said the state government was duty-bound to look after the state’s long-term environmental sustainability as it was Penang’s biggest selling point.
PHT council member Loh-Lim Lin Lee questioned why the state was pushing for the mega projects to be implemented so close to the general election.
Penang Municipal councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui said the mega projects were not in line with the recommendations of the Penang Transport Master Plan.