GEORGE TOWN: Penang will proceed with the proposed RM150 million cable car project for Penang Hill through collaboration with the private sector.
The state government, through Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), will call for a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the cable car project on Wednesday until May 24.
The cable car project is expected to take between three and four years to complete and be operational.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said preliminary studies for the project's feasibility have been conducted and a thorough evaluation on the market, social, economic and environmental impact, financial models, advertisement viability, alignment options, among others, were completed by a consultant.
He said, based on the studies conducted, there were several route options for the cable car project — via Taman Botani, Youth Park and Teluk Bahang.
"PHC welcomes those who are qualified with proven capabilities and track record to participate in the RFP process.
"The cable car system is known to the world as an Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) backed by proven data and scientific conclusion. Many national parks, nature reserves and even Unesco World Heritage Sites have successfully implemented it given its small footprint and environmentally-friendly construction methodologies.
"Therefore, apart from the existing funicular services that serve the residents and visitors at Penang Hill, the project is aimed to be an alternative mode of access to help redistribute traffic during peak holiday seasons, and at the same time, contribute to Penang's tourism industry, " Chow, who is PHC chairman, told newsmen at his office in Komtar.
Present was PHC general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng.
The federal government had, last April, announced that the RM100 million initial allocation for the project had been cancelled.
According to Chow, with PHC's application to be recognised as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, through its "Man and the Biosphere (MAB)" programme, there must be careful planning and forecast for future developments at Penang Hill.
"It is not a stand-alone project and plenty of consideration as well as deliberation had been done collectively. This clearly signifies the Penang government's commitment towards its Penang 2030 vision to become 'a family-focused, green and smart state' that inspires the nation," he added.
Elaborating, Chow said companies interested to bid for the project could study their documents and follow their alignments.
"The RFP also gives them the alternative to come out with alignments of their own. We hope this cable car project can be fully funded privately, and those chosen will be given the right to manage it," he said.
Cheok said PHC had received encouraging support for the cable car project, with more than 95 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed being in favour of the project.
"Also, more than 90 per cent of those surveyed said they would definitely return to Penang Hill once the cable car system is in place," he said, adding that the final cost of the project would depend on the alignment chosen.