GEORGE TOWN, Jan 22 ― The Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project will benefit the state’s socio-economy, besides creating various jobs and stimulating economic growth, says Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abd Rahman.
He said the PSR project also involved programmes to maintain ecological balance such as mangrove planting, creating artificial reefs, releasing fish fry, the building of ecological seawalls along the perimeter of the artificial islands, and allocation of funds for research on fisheries, reefs and marine ecology.
“These programs aim to minimise the impact of the project on the marine environment, create new habitats for marine life and encourage fish breeding. This means that fishermen can still continue their work in the future,” he said in a statement here today.
He was commenting on a recent Bernama report regarding the complaints of fishermen in the Gertak Sanggul area who feared their livelihoods would be affected by the implementation of the mega-project. They also claimed that the compensation package promised to fishermen was not fair.
Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the proposed Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP) of the project also includes compassionate aid, empowerment and housing schemes, the details of which were still being finalised by the state government.
He said the state government began drafting the plan shortly after the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment was approved on June 25, 2019, where the views of various parties including the Penang Fishermen's Association (Pen Mutiara), Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority and the Penang Fisheries Department were also taken into account.
“On October 23, 2020, a closed briefing session on the proposed SIMP was presented to Pen Mutiara, which contains programmes and packages designed by the state government such as the construction of fishermen’s piers, support programmes for entrepreneurship, employment opportunities, education and housing, and proposals for compassionate payments,” he said.
Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the state government wished to emphasise that the compassionate aid was not compensation, and based on what was proposed at the time, skippers and crew from the Permatang Tepi Laut unit (Level 1) would receive RM21,600 and RM12,960 respectively.
He said as much as 75 per cent of the total payment would be given during the reclamation of Island A (2021-2029) as the unit was located closest to the project site, with the remaining amount given during the reclamation of Island B, which has yet to be determined.
Apart from that, he said skippers and crew from Sungai Batu, Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul (Level 1) fishing units will also receive RM21,600 and RM12,960 respectively, where they will get 50 per cent during the reclamation of Island A, and the remainder during the reclamation of Island B.
“Recipients from the Seri Jerjak, Batu Maung, Teluk Tempoyak, Pulau Betong and Kuala Sungai Burung (Level 2) fishing units will receive RM9,000 and RM5,400 respectively, of which 50 per cent of the total amount will be given during the reclamation of Island A, and the rest during the reclamation of Island B, “
“When the reclamation works begin, fishermen can still go to sea as usual. The reclamation work is expected to complete an area of about 150 acres in the first year and 400 acres the subsequent year,” he said, adding that the entire project involving three artificial islands is expected to take 30 years, with a minimum of nine years required to complete Island A. ― Bernama