GEORGE TOWN: Prime minister and Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) should intervene and review the multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), a non-governmental organisation said.
Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group adviser Yan Lee said local NGO, Penang Forum, had met with CEP recently and proposed for an international organisation, specialising in public transport, to review the ambitious project.
As such, Yan said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should intervene in the project before it is implemented.
“This (the project) has gone crazy. Now is the Pakatan Harapan government...a new Malaysia, hence they should go for more sustainable development.
“We always trust in moving people rather than moving vehicles. Building highways will not solve the traffic congestion issue,” he told newsmen when speaking about the key components of PTMP, namely the implementation of the Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 highway at the Youth Park here today.
Commenting on the PTMP, Yan said Kuala Lumpur had served as an example that building highways would not overcome traffic congestion.
He said the previous government was aware of the matter and had focused on developing public transport system such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
Yan said when the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway was first introduced, the travelling time from Persiaran Gurney to Penang International Airport was shortened to just 18 minutes.
However, the project delivery partner of PTMP had claimed that it now took 45 minutes to travel the same route.
“In five or 10 years, the same will happen here as well,” he said.
Yan said the PIL 1 highway project would change the greenery outlook of the Youth Park as hundreds of trees will have to be cut down to make way for the feeder road connecting to the PIL 1.
“During weekends, thousands of people will come to exercise or relax here at Youth Park. Imagine a six-lane elevated highways above their heads. This is simply ridiculous!” he said.
The PTMP project, which was announced in 2015, would consist of the LRT, undersea tunnel and three paired roads, including the PIL 1.
The PIL 1 highway includes a 10km tunnel, which will connect Jalan Gottlieb, the Youth Park, Penang Hill, Paya Terubong and Sungai Ara.
Meanwhile, Penang Forum committee member Dr Lim Mah Hui also called on the state government to prioritise on improving the public transport instead of constructing more highways.
He said the Rapid Bus Transit (RBT) system could be deployed to more routes, especially at the congested areas, to alleviate the traffic jam.
He said such public transport is cost saving and more environment friendly.
“It is also in line with the PTMP, which aims to improve public transport users from 3 to 40 per cent.
“It will be difficult to achieve this target if the state government wants to build more highways, costing billions of ringgit,” he said when contacted by NSTP today.
Lim, a former Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillor, said research showed the new highways would only solve the traffic congestion up to four years after its construction.
He said the traffic is expected to worsen after that as more vehicles will travel to the island.
“The state government has to take into account the RBT system in Bogota, Columbia and Jakarta, Indonesia where its capacity is between one and two million passengers a day.
“Hence, it is better if the state can use the RM8 billion to build RBT which can cover a vast majority of the area compared to constructing PIL,” he added.