Penang undersea tunnel may cost over RM20b, minister claims

Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan wanted the Penang chief minister to explain why the state government agreed to pay for the undersea tunnel project using 110 acres of high-value prime seaside land. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan wanted the Penang chief minister to explain why the state government agreed to pay for the undersea tunnel project using 110 acres of high-value prime seaside land. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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PUTRAJAYA, May 5 — Umno’s Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan claimed today that the Penang undersea tunnel project would cost taxpayers RM20 billion or more by the time it is completed in 2025.

The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister noted that the study for the planned project had cost a “staggering” RM305 million.

“Why did the DAP Penang state government agree to pay using 110 acres of prime seaside land — valued at RM6.3 billion in 2013 — for a project that may only be completed in 2025 at the earliest, given this pre-identified land could be worth double or triple the RM6.3 billion in 2025?” he said, in a press conference here.

“As prime Penang beachfront land is fast appreciating asset, this could mean the 110 acres would be worth double or triple its price by 2025 — meaning the project could end up costing the rakyat of Penang up to RM20 billion or more.”

He urged Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to explain the matter along with other questions on the undersea tunnel project.

Abdul Rahman also questioned the Penang government’s decision to award a 30-year toll concession to the company building the tunnel, claiming it to be contrary to the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.

The Penang undersea tunnel linking the island state to the mainland was awarded to Consortium Zenith BUCG in 2013.

The consortium is a joint-venture between Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd and China Railway Construction Co Ltd, together with Beijing Urban Construction Group, Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd and Juteras Sdn Bhd.

The state government said the project would help ease traffic congestion and boost Penang’s economy.

However, several non-governmental organisations have been against it, citing environmental issues that it could cause.

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