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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chaotic traffic situation at RM10mil temporary bus terminal

Aerial view: The temporary bus terminal is located near the Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth. The green patch on the left was previously occupied by the former bus terminal and has been earmarked for the Penang Sentral project.

The Federal Government should consider calling a fresh tender for the RM2.7bil Penang Sentral transportation hub project, a consumer group said.

Penang Consumer Protection Association president K. Koris said this should be done as it has been more than four years since the project’s groundbreaking ceremony which was performed by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2007.

He said if the appointed contractor was incapable of handling the mega project, then the Government should re-tender it in an open tender.

He said the Government had announced that the project, which would be similar to KL Sentral, would serve as an integrated traffic dispersal system for the northern region.

“Sadly, work on the project has yet to start except for the construction of a RM10mil temporary bus terminal and hawker centre nearby back in 2008,” Koris said in an interview.

He claimed that the situation at the temporary terminal was often chaotic and that the narrow one-way stretch on Jalan Pantai leading to the terminal was choked with traffic daily.

“The contractor should have constructed a proper lane with roofing to enable cars to drop off and pick up commuters at the temporary site.

“Now, motorists have to jostle with express buses and local stage buses as well as with petrol tankers, that frequent the nearby petrol plants, to drop off commuters,” Koris said.

Bagan Barisan Nasional co-ordinator David Chua said the project was vital to give Seberang Prai a major boost in terms of economic development.

“Rapid Penang has also committed to increase its fleet of buses in Seberang Prai by December but, with limited space at the temporary terminal, it may not be possible for fear of worsening the traffic congestion there,” he said.

Chua also said the project contractor must give due attention to the safety of commuters, including the disabled, by providing necessary amenities for them at the bus terminal.

Penange Public Works, Utilities and Transport Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said the contractor had yet to submit the project’s planning permission application to the Seberang Prai Municipal Council.

“It has been over a year since the state helped the Transport Ministry acquire a parcel of state land to be merged with other parcels of land belonging to the Penang Port Commission, Malaysian Highway Authority and Rail Authority Commission to make way for the project.

“We will help ensure that the council expedite the project’s planning permission and building plans once we receive the necessary applications,” Lim said.

Last November, Northern Corridor Implementation Authority chief executive officer Datuk Redza Rafiq had said that the project, which has a gross development value of RM3.1bil, would be built in three phases and scheduled for completion by 2020.

He said the transportation hub would be able to accommodate up to 180,000 passengers a day.

The project, developed by Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) in partnership with Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Berhad over 12.8ha, is part of the Northern Corridor Economic Region initiative. Both companies formed a joint venture company called Penang Sentral Sdn Bhd which will undertake the development of the transport and commercial hub.

MRCB Selborn Corporation Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of MRCB, has been appointed to manage the development, design, construction, completion and maintenance of Penang Sentral.

By The Star

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