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Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications director Datuk Rahman Dahlan has called on the Penang government to clarify several matters related to the Penang Tunnel project. Pix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

PUTRAJAYA: Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications director Datuk Rahman Dahlan has called on the Penang government to clarify several matters related to the Penang Tunnel project.

He told reporters today that questions related to the project should be answered as soon as possible in a manner reflecting the state government's advocacy of competency, accountability and transparency (CAT).

"The Penang Chief Minister (Lim Guan Eng) should answer openly and in a transparent manner," he said.

He listed seven questions linked to the tunnel project:

* Explain why the total cost of various studies for the project, which is essentially mostly paperwork, could reach a staggering RM305 million?

* Was the award of these studies based on open tender? If in the affirmative, please explain why was the initial feasibility study awarded to a related party who did not appoint necessary consultants or expertise to complete the job and had to subsequently give up.

* Why was the private company already paid an advance payment of RM139 million even though the studies (feasibility report and environmental impact assessment) had yet to be completed?

* If the feasibility study is unfavourable, can the DAP-led Penang government recover any of the RM139 million already paid?

* Was the private company penalised for failure to adhere to the agreed project timeline?

* Despite agreeing to pay full cost of the construction, why did the Penang government agree to give a further 30 years toll concession to the company?

* Why did the Penang government agree to pay using 110 acres (44ha) of prime seaside land - valued at RM6.3 billion in 2013 - for a project that may only be completed in 2025 at the earliest, given that this pre-identified land could be worth double or triple the RM6.3 billion in 2025?

Rahman also asked if this would this mean that the true cost of the project to the people of Penang could be tripled and could reach RM20 billion.

He said the RM305 million could be better utilised for the welfare of the Penang folk.

"The RM305 million is almost double the RM176 million that the Penang government had spent from the 2009 to 2015 for Emas Welfare programmes for senior citizens, single mothers, people with special needs, students, housewives, newborn and undergraduate."

Rahman also claimed the Penang government had no understanding about the term "conflict of interest" because the state government awarded Consortium Zenith BUCG (CZBUCG) to do the feasibility reports when CZBUCG was the very same company that would be constructing the project itself, if deemed feasible.

"In fact, the first sub-contractor company engaged by CZBUCG in 2013 to do the feasibility study was Astral Supreme Construction Sdn Bhd, who in August 2014 admitted that it had failed to complete the report.

"Further checks at Registrar of Companies revealed that the controlling shareholder of Astral Supreme is also a substantial shareholder of CZBUCG- paving way to another conflict of interest," he added.

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