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Thursday, June 19, 2008

UEM is still the contractor: Minister

SECOND Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop today said that UEM Builders Bhd remains the contractor for the second Penang bridge project but declined to comment on reports that the company will not manage and collect tolls.

An online news provider recently reported that the government was overhauling the project by breaking up the key elements, namely, the construction and concession to collect tolls.

Citing unnamed government officials, the report said the toll concession portion would be decided through an open tender, and the winning party would have to share revenue with the government.

It also said the move could save the government up to RM18 billion over 45 years, and lead to greater flexibility in levying toll charges.

Speaking to newsmen after delivering his keynote address at the Malaysia Islamic Capital Market Conference 2008, Nor Mohamed said he would discuss the issue with the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department.

“I will discuss with the EPU and will issue a proper statement soon, but on the issue of the bridge’s contractor, at this point in time certainly UEM is on as a contractor,” he said.

He also stressed that construction of the Second Bridge, which connects Penang to the mainland, was still on.

“I don’t think the project will be cancelled and UEM is still the contractor,” he said.

Earlier this month, UEM Builders said the government has approved an increase in the construction cost for the bridge above the original cost of RM4.3 billion due to rising prices of oil and building materials.

It also said preliminary work on the construction of the bridge had started and the project was on track to be completed as planned by 2011.

The 24-km bridge project is being undertaken by UEM Builders, in a joint venture with China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd.

By Bernama

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