PENANG — Penang Gerakan is greatly concerned with the statement made by Szeto Wai Loong, the Executive Director of Gamuda Sdn Bhd, the major partner of SRS Consortium,that the final cost of Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) mega project could escalate beyond RM 27 billion if the scope of work is increased to cater for the infrastructural needs for the next 30 years under the current plan.
“We are worried that the forecast balloon figure could result in the never ending demands by the cronies of Pakatan Harapan for more lands to be reclaimed to meet the increased costs,” said Penang Gerakan secretary Oh Tong Keong in a statement.
Oh pointed out that according to the forecast made by Szeto Wai Loong, not only the costs of construction materials and the wages for the workers would escalate in years to come, the other factors like inflation and the weakening of the exchange rate for the ringgit etc would also contribute to rising cost for the PTMP project.
He said when Penang Government announced the cost of the whole mega PTMP project as RM 27 billion, why factors such as the future infrastructure needs, and the increasing inflationary costs were not included in the calculations of the total costs?
“Have this costing been done by professional? We are concerned that the state government may be trying to hide the actual cost of the whole mega project to give leeway out for the Project Delivery Partner to unlimited demand for more lands to be reclaimed in the sea of Penang to meet the extra costs of this mega project.”
Oh said, if the proposed land reclamation projects in the Southern sea of Penang are already completed and the profit gained thereof is found enough to cover the balloon costs of this mega PTMP project, will the state government allow more lands to be reclaimed to pay the extra costs to the Project Delivery Partner?
Oh pointed out that generally in the computation of the cost for the mega infrastructure project, the inflationary costs and any other risk factors which may contribute to the extra costs of the project would be taken into consideration in the projected costs and the relevant budget.
Hence, it is puzzling for the Penang government which is governed by professionals to tell the people that the cost of the whole project will exceed the budgeted cost when the project will be targeted to kick off soon.
He said the Penang government has an obligation to account for it and let people of Penang know the truth.
He said, other than the escalating construction materials cost, the policy to sell state lands rampantly by the state government over the past few years have contributed to escalating land costs and the surge of prices of houses in Penang.
The more housing developers have to pay for the cost of the lands, the higher will be the prices of the houses, and this has also prompted the housing developers to choose to pay for the punitive development charges in lieu of building low medium cost houses.
Consequently, more luxurious bungalows and condominiums are being built everywhere by the housing developers in Penang. On the other hand, the state government did not fully utilize the development charges collected from the housing developers to build low and low medium cost houses, leading to rampant speculation on the prices of the real estate property by the housing developers and the relevant agents in Penang.
Oh hoped that Penang state exco member Chow Kon Yeow who has been active in Penang and gained mandate from the people of Penang for many years will advise the state government to stop the policy to reclaim lands in the sea of Penang and instead submit the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan to the federal government for further deliberations in terms of financial aids and consultation.