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GEORGE TOWN, Feb 17 — Construction on the first transit centre for the homeless in Penang is set to be completed by October, with a view to operations starting by early 2022.
Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the building is also the first of its kind in the state to achieve triple net-zero energy, water and waste.
A triple net-zero building means that all energy sources are fully renewable, water comes from a rainwater-harvesting system and zero waste is generated.
“The building will be 100 per cent solar powered so it will be using renewable energy,” he said when visiting the construction site of the RM4.4 million project.
He said the aim is for the building to achieve the platinum status of the Green Building Index (GBI), making it a truly environmentally-friendly structure with a low carbon footprint.
The centre, located along Jalan CY Choy, will be a three-storey building constructed adjacent to an existing double-storey shophouse.
The first floor will consist of a free clinic, a recycling area, a disabled-friendly room, a bakery and a dining area.
“The Mutiara Food Bank will also be located on the ground floor of the centre to hand out food to the less fortunate,” he said.
There will be two dormitories, segregated by gender, on the second floor, which Yew said will offer a total of 88 beds.
There will also be 18 single beds for women and 50 single beds for men; both categories will have six dedicated beds each for the physically challenged.
The centre will have another 10 bunk beds for men.
“We will have an urban farm on the third floor of the building,” Yew said.
The construction of the centre, built on a land area of about 1,370 square metres, is currently about 45 per cent done and is on course to meet its targeted completion date of October 6.
Discussions are now underway for the transit centre to be operated by the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merits Society.
Yew said the international charitable organisation will manage and run the centre once operations commence.
Last year, during the groundbreaking ceremony of the project, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said a total of 592 vagrants and beggars were rounded up across the whole of Penang during 458 operations between January and December 2019.
He said the project will give the homeless a roof over the heads and get them off the streets.