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Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state would only respond to the matter after it received accurate information about the project. Pix by Danial Saad

GEORGE TOWN: Penang government has refrained from answering claims made by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the continuation of 19.5km Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 project despite it costing more than previously estimated.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state would only respond to the matter after it received accurate information about the project.

"I do not wish to comment on his (Najib's) allegations.

"Give me some time to get the right information and statistics about PIL 1 before I issue any statement on the matter," he told the NSTP when met today.

Najib had reportedly said the government had previously condemned him over the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project by saying that it cost too much and was a waste of public funds.

He said Pakatan Harapan had claimed that the RM55 billion for the 688km ECRL rail line - which translated to about RM80 million per km - was too costly.

Strangely, he said PH had decided to carry on with the PIL 1 project even though the cost had escalated from RM7.5 billion to RM9 billion or RM461 million per km.

Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the ballooning of the cost, if true, would burden the people.

Stressing that the entire mega project was unwarranted, he said the project would have adverse impact on various quarters, especially those living in the southern part of the island and along the PIL 1 route.

"Since its announcement, the project has been met with widespread protests.

"The government had announced the Penang South Reclamation, which will see the creation of three man-made islands, to fund the numerous projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which included the PIL 1.

"This will directly affect the marine ecosystem there as well as the people's livelihood as PIL 1 involved drilling and blasting.

"As such, several non-governmental organisations, including Penang Forum, have initiated numerous awareness programme to the communities to be affected by the project, to oppose it." he added.

Yesterday, Chow told a press conference that the alignment for the PIL 1 was still in the preliminary design stage, and would be further improved to minimise any impact.

Stressing that there was a need for the PIL 1 to address the worsening traffic congestion, he said that those who opposed the project should provide a viable alternative.

The 19.5km PIL 1 highway will include a 10-km tunnel that cuts through the hills in Bukit Bendera, Paya Terubong and Sungai Ara to alleviate traffic congestion on the island. It will also cut across the Youth Park, which is unavoidable.

The RM7.5 billion highway will then allow traffic to go directly from Gurney Drive to Gottlieb Road, Youth Park, Sungai Keluang and the Second Penang Bridge, cutting travelling time by more than half.

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