Such a viaduct is bound to have serious implications both socially and environmentally, which should also have been considered in the assessment, says the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association in a statement:
The Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA) calls on the Penang state government to have a dialogue session with all residents along the alignment of the North Coastal Paired Road (NCPR) from Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah project to explain full details of the road and seek their feedback.
In addition, the state must also explain all the alternatives that have been explored for the road and the cost-benefit analysis for the project so that the affected people in the area are fully aware about the state government’s reasoning for the road project.
Such a dialogue session will be in the spirit of the state government being transparent and accountable to the people of Penang.
Our call is in view of recent comments by state works committee chairman Lim Hock Seng in response to the appeal by TBRA for the paired road to be scrapped.
According to recent press reports, Lim said that the state had considered all the alternatives to the road access to Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi before arriving at the decision to proceed with the project.
Lim was also reported to have said that the first phase of the paired road is from Batu Ferringhi to Tanjung Bungah, which, according to him, is most urgent to be constructed.
He was also reported to have said that there is a plan to build a viaduct from Lembah Permai (in Tanjung Bungah) to Seri Tanjung Pinang.
Our response is that this plan for the viaduct was nowhere mentioned in the environmental impact assessment for the project.
Such a viaduct is bound to have serious implications both socially and environmentally, which should also have been considered in the assessment.
What is its alignment and which communities and residential areas are going to be affected?
These are matters that must be clarified urgently.
Obviously, the state government is not making matters clear and causing a lot of anxiety among the residents of Tanjung Bungah.
Furthermore, the environmental impact assessment for the paired road did not reveal all the alternatives that were considered by the state government, which in our view, is a major flaw.
According to the guidelines for environmental impact assessments, a proper assessment for the project should have considered the alternatives or project options properly, including providing the basis for the elimination of options which are considered as unreasonable.
Since this has not been done, the Department of Environment should not approve the environmental impact assessment as it is currently.
The first phase of the paired road (from Batu Ferringhi to Tanjung Bungah) will involve thousands of affected residents who live along the corridor of the road alignment which includes Taman Leader Condominium, Jalan Chee Seng 8, Taman Tanjung Bungah, Jalan Chee Seng, Surin Condominimum, Coastal Tower, Desa Mar Vista Apartment, Beverly Hills, Shamrock Beach, Sri Sayang Service Apartment, Ferringhi Delima Condominium, and Kampung Batu Ferringhi.
Many of the residents are unaware of the implications of the road project on their quality of life.
The ‘saving’ of 14 minutes of time travelled between Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang at a cost of RM1bn for the paired road will soon vanish once more traffic demand is generated by the new road in the coming years.
We are also puzzled why the paired road has to be a four-lane dual carriage way?
Building more roads is never a sustainable solution, as more roads bring more cars. Finding truly sustainable transport options that move people instead of private cars is the only way forward for a truly greener Penang.
It therefore incumbent on and imperative for the state government to be fully transparent on the need for the paired road, on the implications of this to the residents affected by the road and on what alternatives were considered and deemed not feasible.
Meenakshi Raman is chairperson of the Tanjung Bungah Residents Association.