Penang presses ahead with private partners for cable car project after Putrajaya cuts off RM100m funding

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks during a press conference at Komtar, George Town January 11, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow speaks during a press conference at Komtar, George Town January 11, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Jan 11 — The Penang government has called for a request for proposal for a privately-funded cable car service up Penang Hill after the federal government cancelled its RM100 million allocation for the project.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the cable car project will proceed through collaboration with the private sector.

“We have proposed several alignments for interested bidders to propose and if they have a better alignment, they can propose an alternative,” he said in a press conference at his office today.

He said the successful bidder will have to fully fund the project and will be given the rights to operate the project for a certain period of time.

He said the cable car can be an alternative mode of access to Penang Hill and redistribute traffic during peak holiday seasons while contributing to the tourism industry.

Chow said the pre-feasibility study of the cable car project has been completed with thorough evaluation on the market, social, economic and environmental impact, financial models and viability and alignment options.

“There are several route options for the cable car project, from the Botanic Gardens, Youth Park and Teluk Bahang,” he said.

He said the project is expected to take between three to four years to complete and be operational.

Penang Hill general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng speaks during a press conference at Komtar, George Town January 11, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Hill general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng speaks during a press conference at Komtar, George Town January 11, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) General Manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said the project will meet with stringent requirements to ensure there is no negative impact on existing facilities and the environment.

He said the cable car project proposal was not new since the pre-feasibility study was conducted a few years ago and three alignments have been proposed from the study.

He said the cancelled RM100 million allocation was not the actual cost of the project and was only an estimation.

“The average costs of a cable car project could be around RM150 million, depending on the alignment and the facilities,” he said.

He said the actual costs of the project will depend fully on the construction methodology and the length of the alignment.

“We will choose a construction methodology that is good for the environment,” he said.

He stressed that the cable car system is known worldwide as an environmentally sustainable transport so it has very little impact on the environment.

He said many world Unesco heritage sites and biosphere reserves have cable car systems, some of it with two to five lines.

The RFP is open to registered companies from January 13 to May 24 and more information is available on ep.penang.gov.my.

Earlier, Chow witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Penang Development Corporation (PDC) with iHeal Health Sdn Bhd to present a final proposal on developing the Penang Medical and Digital Technology Hub in Batu Kawan.

Chow said iHeal Health has presented a few preliminary concepts on the development of the hub and with this MOU, it can conduct an in-depth study into preparing a final proposal in a year’s time.

The proposed project is located on 295 acres of land in Bandar Cassia in Batu Kawan and he said if the project is approved, it is set to place Penang as an Asean hub for medical and digital technology.


 

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