Zairil: Work on Penang Hill cable car to start in June at the latest

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Hill cable car project is expected to begin in a month or two.

State Infrastructure Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the project is expected to cost between RM250 million and RM300 million, and be completed in two to three years.

He said a private finance initiative would be used to fund the project.

"We have obtained the approvals to kick-start the project, including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Department of Environment (DoE) and the planning permission from the Penang Island City Council.

"We are now conducting the Traffic Management Plan and Environmental Management Plan for construction phase.

"Once those are completed, we will be able to start work on the Penang Hill cable car either in May or June," he said at a Hari Raya carnival organised by the Bukit Bendera member of parliament at SK Jalan Residensi here today.

Zairil said the cable car would become a major tourist attraction.

"We are now dependent on the funicular train to go up and down Penang Hill.

"The cable car will use a different route, starting from the Penang Botanic Gardens straight to Penang Hill, spanning 2.7km.

"It will take 10 minutes to get to the top of the hill, just like the funicular train," he added.

Zairil acknowledged criticisms of the project, but gave an assurance that it is environmentally friendly.

Zairil said a cable car is a necessary component of any United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation natural heritage site. He cited China and Europe as examples.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had said last month it was wrong for the DoE to approve the EIA report without holding a public display and accepting feedback, a requirement under the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 2015.

However, Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) said SAM, despite its misgivings, had failed to turn up at a focus group discussion about the project

PHC general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Leng said multiple discussions were held to engage and educate stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations, about the cable car project.

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