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Penang Forum: Residents affected by proposed highway still in the dark

Opalyn Mok
Malay Mail
Khoo pointed out that the Environmental Impact Assessment of PIL1 only mentioned the main highway structure but did not detail the feeder roads to the highway. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 12 — Most people who could be directly or indirectly affected by the proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) are still unaware of the project, Penang Forum claimed today.

Penang Forum member Khoo Salma said the public engagement sessions they held with affected residents revealed that most have no idea that they were residing in the vicinity of the project.

“Most of them don’t know that they will be affected and most of them were shocked to learn that their houses will either be directly or indirectly affected,” she told reporters after holding a talk on PIL1 and the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

She said they held engagement sessions and talks with residents affected at Gottlieb Road, Air Itam, Paya Terubong, Sungai Ara and Sungai Keluang.

The activist pointed out that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of PIL1 only mentioned the main highway structure but did not detail the feeder roads to the highway.

“So it is not only those along the main highway who will be affected, those located along places in where feeder roads have to be built to connect to the highway will also be affected,” she said.

She said the project would affect more than just the main highway line.

“This is not just one line, it is to everywhere and people who will be affected won’t know about it,” she said.

Another Penang Forum member, Lim Gaik Siang, said they have held 13 public sessions on PIL1 and PTMP since July.  

“We have collected a total 1,000 objection letters from the public and another 2,000 from the schools and St Nicholas’ Home along Gottlieb Road and Jalan Bagan Jermal,” she said.

She said the objection letters were submitted to the Department of Environment (DOE), the Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry and Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow last week.

Lim said they will try to continue engaging the public and submit as many objection letters as possible to DOE before the September 24 deadline.

“We don’t know if this will work but it is better that we do something rather than not trying at all,” she said.

Penang Forum has fiercely objected to the PIL1 and demanded that the state government review the PTMP.

They proposed that the state use the RM8 billion for PIL1 to put in place a comprehensive public transport system that included bus rapid transit and trams instead of building highways.

PIL1 is a 19.5km highway consisting of tunnels and viaducts to connect Gurney Drive to the southern part of the island.

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