Proposed Third Penang Bridge Leads To Prized Reclamation Site On Mainland


Another day, another mega-project proposed… You would have thought the pandemic and economic slump would have made our planners a little more circumspect about indulging in more mega-projects.
But nooo, the economic slump has offered few lessons to our ‘planners’. Even as the Covid threat appears to be receding a little, we hear of more mega-projects in the pipeline: the cable car is still in the picture (despite Penang Hill and surroundings being selected as a Unesco Man and Biosphere site), there’s more reclamation in Langkawi, there’s the Kulim airport project, another 1,000 acres of reclamation in Butterworth and now a proposed third Penang bridge.
Hold on a sec… The idea for a bridge-tunnel in this part of Penang was originally mooted by none other than then-Works Minister Samy Vellu in 2001 – yes, 20 years ago. Back then, I wrote a piece (‘The Parking Lot of the Orient’) for Aliran Monthly opposing the 9.2km cross-channel road link estimated at a cost of RM2.3bn (back then) from Bagan Ajam on the mainland to Bagan Jermal (near Gurney Drive) on the island as it would choke the island with cars.
As things turned out, the bridge-tunnel idea was scrapped. Instead, a second bridge was built from Batu Kawan on the mainland to Batu Maung on the island. But before that could be fully used (if at all), we witnessed the tunnel debacle and now we hear of talk of a third bridge – and that too soon after the once-acclaimed Penang ferry service has now been reduced to a boat ride.
Surprise, surprise, the plan for an “elevated bridge” (when does a bridge become an ‘elevated bridge’?) is just a couple of kilometres north of the route Samy Vellu proposed 20 years ago. The more things change, the more they remain the same!
As always, the real prize seems to be the 1,000-acre land reclamation on the mainland from Bagan Ajam to Teluk Air Tawar, going past the air force base and beyond Robina Park in northern Butterworth. (This reminds me how the real prize of the controversy-plagued Penang tunnel project was actually the high-density property development planned at the roundabout end of Gurney Drive.)
The sea-front land on the mainland, with spectacular vistas of Penang Island and sunsets (see above), has been coveted by property developers for about a decade, so much so at one stage there was even a plan to relocate the airforce base further inland under a swap deal. But thankfully, that did not work out.
But now this 1,000-acre reclamation. Note the pink strip… a “proposed beach” when there is already a long beach at Robina Park, where people flock to for picnics and take Instagram-worthy photos.
But is this the time to embark on more property development and massive land reclamation, when even foreign buyers are scarce and the local population is barely rising?
Who gains and who losers? What will happen to the few remaining fishermen in northern Butterworth? More on this soon…
The post Proposed third Penang bridge leads to prized reclamation site on mainland appeared first on anilnetto.com.


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