Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman said that construction is delayed because the Public Works Department (PWD) is in the midst of amending the project’s plans due to the realignment of the light rail transit (LRT) line there. NSTP/MIKAIL ONG

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has denied claims that it is dragging its feet on the rebuilding of the Sungai Nibong Besar mosque here.

Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman said that construction is delayed because the Public Works Department (PWD) is in the midst of amending the project’s plans due to the realignment of the light rail transit (LRT) line there.

He said that original plans had the mosque being rebuilt on Lots 3423 and 10067, which are between Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and the proposed LRT line.

“After the mosque was torn down for its reconstruction in May, there were plans by the state government to realign the LRT.

“In the initial alignment, the LRT line was supposed to run in front of the mosque’s mihrab (the niche in a mosque showing the direction of Mecca), a distance of about 2.7m,” he told the state legislative assembly sitting, today.

Zakiyuddin (PH-Pinang Tunggal) said this in response to an oral question from state opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor (BN-Sungai Dua), who had wanted to know the reason for the delay.

Zakiyuddin, who oversees the Islamic religious portfolio, assured him that the mosque’s reconstruction is set to begin in January.

Earlier, some 20 people held a peaceful assembly outside the state legislative assembly to pressure the state government to expedite the mosque’s reconstruction.

The mosque’s action committee chairman Sophian Mohd Zain said that they want the project to proceed as planned.

“The original mosque (which) was demolished in May… should have been rebuilt in the same month. Suddenly, the state government ordered it to be delayed until Aug 14. Now, it is postponed to next year.

“We have been waiting for the new mosque for 12 years now. We even contributed RM4.66 million, over and above the federal government’s RM1.8 million funding,” he added.

Today is the 15th demonstration over the delayed mosque construction held since June.

Sophian also handed over a 17-page memorandum to Yusoff.