Feasibility study for Penang undersea tunnel finally completed after four-year delay

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks to the press during a press conference at Komtar on January 6, 2021.  — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks to the press during a press conference at Komtar on January 6, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Jan 6 — The feasibility study for the controversial undersea tunnel project here has finally been completed after a four-year delay.

State exco for transport and infrastructure Zairil Khir Johari said the undersea tunnel and three highways project delivery partner, Consortium Zenith Construction (CZC), completed the study last month.

“Zenith has submitted the final report. We need to go review then arrange for them to present formally to the exco for approval,” he said today.

He said the full report was submitted at the end of December.

The feasibility study on the tunnel started in December 2014 and was supposed to be completed in 2016 but was delayed due to various reasons.

CZC presented the draft feasibility report in September 2019 and it was amended with improvements based on review by various relevant agencies.

When asked about CZC’s restructuring exercise, Zairil said the state is aware of this.

“The state is aware of negotiations between Zenith and various parties including ECK,” he said.

ECK Development Sdn Bhd is a Kedah-based development company.

However, Zairil said the state can only comment after they receive official notification and verification about the restructuring exercise conducted by CZC.

“Meanwhile the state remains committed to ensure the delivery of the project starting with package two, the Air Itam-Lim Chong Eu bypass, which is scheduled to begin full construction on February 1, 2021,” he said.

In an earlier press conference, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state was informed of the restructuring of equity in CZC.

“We will officially announce once we sign a sub agreement with CZC for Package Two this January 15,” he said.

Chow said the agreement will contain construction details, design and land swap details for the package.

The state signed a sub agreement with CZC back in 2019 for Package Two and held a ground-breaking ceremony for the project at the end of 2019.

According to Zairil, the state will be signing a supplementary agreement to the sub agreement with CZC for Package Two of the project.

He said it was mainly to include the designs of some interchanges that were set as conditions in the sub agreement.

“The supplementary agreement will also capture details on site possession, land exchange, land acquisition, etc,” he said.

He said this was because during the signing of the sub agreement in 2019, the designs were not completed yet and now it is almost completed.

He added that if the restructuring exercise in CZC is completed by January 15, then the new shareholders will be representing CZC in the signing ceremony.

Package Two is to build a 5.7km bypass from Ayer Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

The highway will consist of 70 per cent of elevated section or flyover while the remaining highway will be at-grade level.

Package Two is part of the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three highways project.  

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