GEORGE TOWN, June 1 — The Penang South Islands (PSI) project, formerly known as Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project, is a much-needed catalytic development amidst the current protracted pandemic and its impact on the ensuing economy.

In a statement, Penang state exco for Infrastructure and Transport, Zairil Khir Johari said PSI and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) have been identified by the Penang Socio-Economic Recovery Consultative Council (PSERCC) as the key recovery drivers to ensure the state economy survives as much as Penang citizens during and after the current Covid-19 crisis.

“Based on Penang’s previous industrialisation trajectory, an independent study prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers has indicated that the completed PSI would attract RM70 billion worth of foreign direct investment and create more than 300,000 jobs over a 30-year time frame.

“More critically, PSI will be the catalyst for more high-value employment so that we can not only plug the brain drain and stop the outward migration of talented Penangites but also attract the best and brightest from all over the country and indeed the world to Penang,” he said.

Zairil issued the statement in response to Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar’s call to cancel the project for the three man-made islands and instead focus efforts on containing the pandemic, protecting the environment and ecosystem as well as the source of income of Penang fishermen.

Commenting on the livelihood of Penang fishermen, he said the ex-gratia packages being offered to the fishermen affected by the project is a large-scale package of about RM60,000 each involving cash payments, new boats and engines, as well as re-skilling programme for full-time fishermen.

As an added effort, he said a fisheries sustainability programme would also be implemented through the use of artificial reefs and fish aggregating devices, the release of fish and prawn fry and funding for marine-related research.

Meanwhile, he said the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report has been duly studied and mitigation measures have been planned under the ecology offset programmes.

“Rest assured, the three islands are designed to have plenty of public green spaces, with 20 per cent of the land reserved for parks, mangroves, water canals, and wetlands to achieve temperature cooling.

“In addition to that, the PSI also aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent, achieve 100 per cent renewable energy usage and reduce freshwater demand by 70 per cent,” he added.

Under the PSR project, the state government is proposing to reclaim about 1,821 hectares of the sea to build three islands south of the Penang International Airport towards the east around Permatang Damar Laut to create a land bank that will be utilised to finance the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project. — Bernama