Monday 28 April 2008

The federal government backed MRCB consortium Penang Monorail, may be scrapped.

Call my Bluff
Penang Monorail, federal or state?

This is very good news, especially for the people of Penang in general and for elderly and the disabled in particular

Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop threatened on Saturday 26th April 2008, that the federal government will not proceed with the monorail project in Penang if the state authority does not give its cooperation.

He blamed the Penang state government for not cooperating, whist the state government has said that it has been kept in the dark about all the proposed Penang mega projects, including the Second Penang Bridge, which is a federal government project which was given to United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), you know the one, it has an open palm 'begging' hand as a logo, the construction work however has been contracted to a Peoples Republic of China company, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) . This UEM project is reportedly well over budget and about one year behind schedule. The state government, has, however according to media reports, not been updated about the progress of the new bridge.

"So far, we have not received any approvals from the state government. If the state government has other plans with regard to the monorail, we are not doing it. The project is scrapped," the Second finance minister reportedly said.

The proposed 51.2 kilometre monorail# project which may cost RM 2 billion is among several mega projects which are proposed for implementation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) they are supposed to complement the present unsatisfactory public transport system network in Penang.

Nor Mohamed said it required full cooperation and approval from the state government because it involved the development of land and under the constitution, land matters were under state jurisdiction.

"If there is no cooperation, how are we to proceed?" he went on the say that the Penang state government had not given its approval because several issues relating to land acquisition and tender had not been finalised.

Other mega projects under the 9MP would also be shelved if the state government disagreed with them or if there was lack of understanding, he said.

#On January 10, 2008, the federal government announced the winner of the tender, which is a consortium led by Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd. (MRCB) The members of the consortium includes Scomi Engineering Bhd and Penang Port Commission. According to ‘The Edge’, a Malaysian business newspaper, MRCB will build the monorail infrastructure, while Scomi Engineering will provide consultant expertise in building the infrastructure and Penang Port Commission have the land on to which the main hub will operate. The tender cost is expected to be around RM 2 Billion.

It is also understood that the MRCB monorail will not be universally accessible, following on from the dreadful universally-inaccessible KL Monorail.

MRCB also operates a joint venture with Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd which is expected to build an inter-modal transportation hub called Penang Sentral.

A Letter of Intent was signed between the MRCB consortuim and Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd. (SPNB) [which is an arm of the ministry of finance], on 15th January 2008.

SPNB also run the controversial 'Rapid' buses which ply routes in and around Kuala Lumpur and Penang, most of which are not accessible to the disabled.

In my opinion the state government of Penang should call the bluff, and effectively scupper the proposed federal government monorail project, then Penang should go ahead with a state government initiated monorail project, which, if it is the one which has recently been proposed by Melewar [see news article below], will be a much more user-friendly, practical and accessible system, and which is it is understood to be properly designed so as to facilitate access by the disabled and elderly.

"Melewar submits RM2.2b monorail plan [source]
MELEWAR Industrial Group (MIG) Bhd has presented to the Penang state government a proposal for a RM2.2 billion monorail system for George Town.

The proposed ultra-light loop monorail system covering a 52km track is set to operate on a single line and run on three different loops from locations like Gelugor, Farlim in Air Itam and Gurney Drive into the city.

“The focus of the main link will be the centre of George Town and we strongly believe that the federal government and state government will work together in bringing a monorail system to Penang,” Melewar Industrial Group’s managing director and chief executive officer Tunku Datuk Yaacob Tunku Abdullah told reporters after presenting the proposal to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and members of the state executive council yesterday at Lim’s office.

He said the proposed system, which is aimed at moving people from point-to-point into the city, will boast a 12-car train of monorail and can move 17,600 passengers per hour.

Tunku Yaacob said the company can take 28 months to complete the system which would feature steel structures.

“Land acquisition can also be kept to a minimum because the monorail will be running on road dividers,” he added.

When asked to comment on concerns from Penangites that a monorail would mar the charm of George Town’s historic inner city which is vying for a listing on the World Heritage List, Tunku Yaacob said:

“We will not bring the monorail to heritage buildings ... we will not run it in front of the buildings but behind them.”

However, an artist’s impression of the proposed monorail system for Penang provided by Melewar showed the system running alongside historic structures in the city.

On postings in blogs that Penang should bring back its tram system instead of introducing a monorail, he described the tram concept as an interesting one but pointed out that the trams had not been successful.

Last November, Melewar Industrial Group Bhd unit Melewar Metro Sdn Bhd (MMSB), which is vying for the estimated RM1.2 billion monorail project in Penang, announced that it had formed a consortium with Putera Capital Bhd to cooperate to jointly secure the project.

Melewar Group had said in a statement that the consortium was formalised with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between MMSB’s wholly-owned subsidiary Melewar Metro (Penang) Sdn Bhd (MMP) and Putera Capital. MMSB made the proposal for the monorail project to the government via its subsidiary.

Melewar is one of several parties which participated in a tender exercise for the development of a monorail system for Penang on November 14 last year which was called by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB).

In January this year, SPNB awarded a letter of intent for the project to Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB), which has formed a consortium with Penang Port Sdn Bhd and Scomi Engineering Bhd."

Nec temere nec timide

-Neither reckless nor timid


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