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Monday, June 2, 2008

Monorail - just what Penang needs

RAPID economic development coupled with increased urbanisation in Penang has led to a significant growth in the number of vehicles using the road network.

On Penang island, this has placed considerable strain on the existing urban transport infrastructure, leading to worsening traffic congestion, increased parking problems and environmental degradation.

The Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB)-led consortium's monorail proposal for Penang covers densely populated areas such as George Town, Air Hitam, Pulau Tikus and Komtar, to name a few, and the industrial areas.

The plan also provides proposed monorail stations with environmentally clean and efficient feeder bus services.

It will also be easy for the disabled to use.

"Among the features, are a lift with Braille buttons, blind person guides (via studded floors) leading to the station platform and two wheelchair spaces in each monorail vehicle," said Scomi Engineering Bhd president Hilmy Zaini Zainal.

Each station will boast elevators and a train floor at platform height that meets International Disability Act standards.

The trains will also have a wheel chair area.

Hilmy said foundation works are in progress and the pre-cast beams can be constructed simultaneously at the casting yard and launched at site when columns are ready.

"In fact, a considerable amount of site work will be done during the night to mitigate disruption to normal traffic during the day."

The MRCB-led consortium, which includes Scomi Engineering Bhd and Penang Port Sdn Bhd, has been given a letter of intent by the government for the job.

The consortium beat three other bidders for the project and submitted its bid in November last year.

The other three bidders for the monorail were MMC Bhd, the then Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd, which has since been taken over by IJM Corp Bhd, and the Melewar Group.

By New Straits Times

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