GEORGE TOWN, June 20 — Pertubuhan Badan Pemikir Melayu Pulau Pinang (Pemikir), a Penang think tank has expressed its support for the objections raised by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), affected fishermen and several Members of Parliament against the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project for commercial purposes.
Pemikir chairman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad said the project should be called off as it would have serious and negative impacts on the socio-economy and the environment.
“Although the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) has been proposed as a solution to traffic congestion in Penang, however, most of the components in the PTMP are based on the construction of three new highways and less attention is given to improving the existing public transportation system,” he said in a statement here today.
He said the new highways would increase the number of private vehicles on the road in the future, adding the plan also involves the construction of an undersea tunnel and a light rail transit (LRT) line across residential areas and rapidly expanding municipalities.
“When PTMP was announced in 2015 by the state government, the project was worth RM27 billion, but now it is estimated to worth RM46 billion, which is almost double.
“The cost for PSR is estimated at RM11 billion and will take 20 years to complete, even infrastructure experts from Canada have warned that the PTMP is too risky for investors because it is integrated with the PSR project,” he added.
Muhammad Farid said the offset measures proposed by the developer as a replacement for the natural habitat that would be destroyed by the reclamation were inadequate and could not restore the function of the natural habitat.
He said the project would destroy turtle landing sites and severely affected the coral reefs of Pulau Rimau, fishing areas and cause the beaches to turn muddy.
He said there was no doubt that the PSR project would have lasting negative implications not only on the rich biodiversity of the area but also on the source of fish supply and livelihoods of coastal fishermen in Penang, northern Perak and southern Kedah, adding developments that lead to the destruction of nature should never be implemented. — Bernama