No more delay, Sg Pinang flood project to begin April next year: Xavier Jayakumar

Mohamed Basyir

GEORGE TOWN: Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar has given his assurance that the crucial third phase of the Sungai Pinang Basin Flood Mitigation Project (SPBFMP) will finally kick off by April next year. He said that the preliminary process involving the project had begun and that its physical works would begin by mid-next year. It is expected to be fully completed by 2023. “As the minister, I give my assurance that the project will see the light of day as soon as possible. “We are also looking at ‘out of the box’ ideas for the project, not only to broaden the river but also to install tube well, underground containment and others. “The area (Penang) is surrounded by the sea and dictated by the tides, hence we should look at other methods for the project,” he said during a site visit near Lorong Kulit here today. He was met by newsmen after a closed door briefing on the project there. The ministry, had during the reign of Barisan Nasional, announced a RM150 million allocation for the SPBFMP​. Xavier said the fund would be utilised to widen the 1.5km river. He, however, said the real problem faced in executing the project, which would benefit over 150,000 people, was the lack of land space. “There are few empty parcels of lands and we urge the state government to look into it, to see if it is state government-owned lands or private lands. Such areas can be used as catchment areas. “We have to work with the local authorities and the state government to optimise the resources that we have to ensure the project can go on. We do not have land space for the project to be done at large scale so we have to rethink (the methods) and do it within the spaces made available,” he added. He also said the ministry had made this project a priority and had applied for further allocations to complete the project. “Total cost is at RM600 million, so if we can get RM150 million every year, we can get this done within five years,” said Xavier. On a separate matter, Xavier said that he would leave it to both the Penang and Perak governments to come up with an agreement on the supply of water from Sungai Perak to the state. He said the ministry would support it financially. However, he said there were matters to be discussed and agreed between the two states before it could happen. “Whether it is raw water or treated water, it will be up to them. The sales and purchase agreement should be done between them. “Perak has surplus, enough water for them, so this will be an additional revenue for Perak. It is not free. Penang has to pay for it. They have to sit down and come up with a win-win situation,” he said. On logging issue, he said the Kedah government had agreed to revoke the permits for the activity in Ulu Muda in efforts to protect the area and retain it as a water catchment area. He said the ministry would conduct study for the compensation on the revoked permits. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd