GEORGE TOWN, May 17 — Construction on the proposed Penang Hill cable car project is expected to start in the second quarter of next year, Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said today.
He said PHC is currently finalising the technical details for the project such as the alignment and the sites for the pylons to be built in the hill side, which are the island’s green lungs, and the various permits — including the traffic impact assessment (TIA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) — will be applied with the government agencies after that.
“All these preliminary works will take between nine to 12 months and once we get the necessary approvals, we hope to start construction works by next year, possibly second quarter of the year,” he told reporters after jointly launching a mural at the Penang Hill lower station with Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng and Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng.
Cheok said the cable car project must be built to last decades like other similar cable cars in other countries, some of which are over 70 years old.
“We are also looking at cable cars in other Unesco biosphere sites as examples on how to build it in such sensitive areas,” he said.
He said experts from Switzerland and Austria will be coming to Penang to look at the alignment for the cable car next week.
“We will need to confirm the alignment for the cable car before we proceed with the required reports for approvals,” he said.
Among the plans for the project included building a multi-storey car park near the Penang Botanic Gardens where the lower station of the cable car is expected to be located.
Cheok said there are also plans to create beautiful landscapes around the whole area where the lower station is located.
“We will also look into how to solve traffic issues there,” he said.
He said once construction works started, the project is expected to take about two years to complete.
The Penang state government awarded the tender to build the cable car project to local rail industry pioneer, Hartasuma Sdn Bhd, in December last year.
The project was awarded through a public private partnership on design, finance, build, operate and transfer.
Hartasuma is expected to invest RM245 million in the project and the project is based on a 30-year concession period.
According to Hartasuma, the upper station will be located about 730 metres above sea level and it will take about 10 minutes to transport visitors from the lower station up.