GEORGE TOWN, Oct 11 — Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd sees no urgency to present its feasibility study on the proposed undersea tunnel connecting Penang island to the mainland.
Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, senior executive director of the company partnering the Penang government in the project, said the construction for the project was planned to start only six years from now.
“We have presented our progress to the Penang state executive council today. We don’t want to waste our time on the feasibility studies at the moment because construction for the tunnel will only start in year 2023,” he told a press conference in Komtar here today.
He added that completing the feasibility studies will incur more costs which the company has to bear as the state government is yet to pay for it.
He stressed that the payment for the whole RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three paired roads project was by land swap so all costs are currently born by the consortium first.
“This is not urgent, we have stressed and presented to the exco and seek approval so that we don’t waste our effort in completing the feasibility studies of the tunnel because it’s not going to be built in the near future,” Zarul said.
The feasibility studies are 92.9 per cent complete but Zarul said the company would rather focus on the paired roads component of the project.
“It is more pertinent to focus on the highways now as we are hoping to get the EIA approval soon,” he said, referring to the Environmental Impact Assessment (Schedule Two) report.
He added that the company has complied with all the targets for the project, and insisted that any delay was due to factors outside its control.
Construction for the undersea tunnel is supposed to start in 2023 and to be completed by 2027.
The Works Ministry issued a statement yesterday, saying it has yet to receive the feasibility studies and detailed design for the undersea tunnel after an 18-month wait.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof reportedly said the delay in submitting the reports, that costs RM305 million, was “very unusual” as the project was awarded to the project delivery partner in April 2013.
Penang public works and utilities committee chairman Lim Hock Seng, who was also present at the press conference today, also said that the current priority is on the paired roads component.
“We have listened to the issues faced by Zenith. We submitted application for the EIA approval for the highways in April and we are now awaiting the results,” he said.
He also said works for the first two paired roads can start once approval is given for the EIA.
The two paired roads to be implemented first were to connect Air Itam Road to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and the North Coast Paired Road that connects Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang.