Penang CM says highway design submitted for EIA approval only preliminary drawing

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks to reporters during the press conference at Komtar April 17, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks to reporters during the press conference at Komtar April 17, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, April 17 — The drawing for Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) in its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was not the actual design for the highway, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today.

He explained that the computer-generated graphics submitted was only for a preliminary design draft for the Department of Environment (DoE).

“What was contained in the DoE submission was the preliminary design and not the actual design and as I’ve said before. After obtaining the EIA approval, the next stage is to look into the detailed design of the project,” he said.

He said issues such as 56 conditions imposed by DoE for the EIA approval and adherence to various guidelines such as the Public Works Department (PWD) guidelines will be dealt with during the design stage.

“Through engineering solutions and designs, these will address the 56 conditions and the design will go through approval processes respectively such as through PWD, JPS and blasting works from the mineral and geoscience department,” he said.

He referred to Penang Forum’s Khoo Salma Nasution’s statement that PIL1 was in violation of PWD guidelines for slope design.

Khoo had pointed out that PWD design rules stated that design for cut slopes should not exceed six berms.

She said the EIA for PIL1 showed the design violating this rule with some parts going up to 29 berms.

Chow thanked Khoo for her comments while reassuring her and the public that the PWD guidelines will be complied with when the actual detailed design for the highway is drawn up.

“The EIA is only a general approval to comply with before actual work started, we admit that it was an oversight for us that a software generated design was used in the EIA,” he said.

He added that engineering wise, it is near impossible to create a 29 berm slope.

A berm is a raised barrier to fortify and protect the slopes.

Chow said the state will respond to every query and concern raised by stakeholders and interested parties regarding the project.

The DoE approved the EIA for PIL1 on April 10, triggering concern of civil society groups that had repeatedly called for the project to be cancelled.

The RM7 billion PIL1 is a 19.5km highway that will form a second north-south spine road to improve traffic congestion on Penang island.

It will consist of 7.6km of viaduct sections, four tunnel sections totalling 10.1km in length and embankment sections totalling 1.8km.

PIL1, which links Gurney Drive to Bayan Lepas, will have six interchanges linking all major hubs.

It will integrate with the north coastal paired road, Gurney Drive paired road, Air Itam and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway Bypass, first and second Penang bridge, proposed third link and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

PIL1 is a component of the state’s ambitious RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan.

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