It is with great relief and validation that Penang Forum notes the wise and mature decision by the Penang state government to revise their plans for an undersea tunnel.
Besides the highly inflated pricing that we can ill afford now, the state has also mentioned environmental damage.
Penang Forum would like to reiterate that these are only two of the many critical challenges posed by an undersea tunnel in this small channel.
Some others highlighted earlier but dismissed are:
- the tunnel has to be engineered to great depth to achieve a useable waterway for shipping with a deep draft
- this greater depth will require a very long run on expensive land on both ends to attain a useable gradient
- there will be continuous 24-hour electrical usage for lighting and air pumping
- maintenance has to be continuous, meticulous, unfailing and top-notch. Unfortunatel,y we are notorious for our lack of upkeep
- dredging for the shipping lane above the tunnel will be necessary, continuous and very costly
- the deplorable standards of Malaysian driving pose a real and grave danger within the tunnel
- the Penang public was told 10 years ago that the undersea tunnel, while very expensive and difficult, was necessary because any other kind of crossing required federal government approval which was not forthcoming. The entire idea should have been discarded in 2018 when this would not have been an issue
The public is now being thrown another ill-conceived and off-the-cuff alternative – a third bridge?
This has been quickly disputed as a ‘non-starter’ by port authorities as it would need to be at least 100 metres high – never before achieved – to allow high air-draft shipping to access the port. It will also endanger the operations of the RMAF air base at Teluk Air Tawar.
Much like the elevated light rail and other ill-advised transport plans, we urge the state to take advantage of low-hanging fruit. Better, Cheaper and Faster alternatives are available. Water transport in the form of a revitalised ferry and catamaran service for both vehicles and passengers would be highly viable. Trams and the automated rail rapid transit (ART) are being introduced in many cities, including those in Malaysia. Why is Penang still insisting on elevated highways and outdated systems like the elevated light rail transit?
The people are truly tired of being threatened with unending traffic jams and dire consequences if we choose to highlight problems posed by the Penang state government’s mega-projects.
Furthermore, this pandemic has brought about major changes in work and lifestyles, such as work-from-home, that have an impact on transport and mobility. These must be taken into account in transport and town planning, especially for mega-infrastructure projects.
Let us use this opportunity to really plan for the betterment of the people of Penang. Not for big business, not for personal agendas and personal gains, not for the well-connected but for the people of Penang.
There are many Better, Cheaper, Faster alternatives. It is now time to tell us WHY these are NOT being considered seriously. – Penang Forum