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Friday, July 25, 2008

Penang 2nd bridge project already generating spin-offs

The Penang Second Crossing Bridge (P2X) project, which is scheduled to open to the public by 2011, has already started generating value-added and positive spin-offs, UEM Group Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Pardas Senin said.

PARDAS: To date, the company has extended opportunities to more than 40 subcontractors

He said work had actually commenced from the day Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi laid the first piling during the ground breaking ceremony in November 2006, and had not stopped since then.

"To date, we have extended opportunities to more than 40 subcontractors to participate in various preparatory works at this early phase. Some 30 consultants have already started working on the project.

"As the project progresses forward, we will definitely engage more local contractors to participate in this prestigious project," he said in a statement.

Pardas said P2X will increase job opportunities for locals, as well as contribute towards upgrading knowledge and skills of students in local tertiary institutions so that they can be hired and given choice incentives to work in the high-tech project.

UEM signed memorandums of understanding with the Ministry of Higher Education to assist in upgrading community colleges, especially in Penang - as a major initiative to develop knowledge workers and also develop human capital.

The group also provides training and guidance to local vendors so that they will have the required knowledge and skills to undertake projects of such magnitude.

"Via our UEM Young Executive Scheme (UEM YES), 200 young engineers and technical professionals will be selected to work on this project," Pardas added.

He said the group has outlined many corporate social responsibility initiatives including partnerships with local schools. So far it has adopted eight schools in Penang under the Pintar Programme, six via UEM Builders and two via Time Engineering.

UEM Group has already committed more than RM200 million for the P2X project. The total cost of the project has escalated to RM4.5 billion due to the increasing price of materials and fuel. Construction on sea is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2008.

"We have made significant progress by completing soil investigation (on land and sea), pile testing and the construction of the Batu Kawan site office.

"The casting yard, located in Batu Kawan, is in the advanced stage of completion and will be used to produce segment box girders which is the most critical component of the bridge," he said.

Pardas said the project is one of the main catalysts for the development of the Northern Corridor Economic Region that encompasses Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Northern Perak.

"It will help spur socio-economic activities, contribute towards bridging island and mainland communities, and of course solve traffic congestion on the existing Penang Bridge," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Lokman Mansor)

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