Don’t compare Pan Island Link 1 Highway with East Coast Rail Link, says Penang CM

Don’t compare Pan Island Link 1 Highway with East Coast Rail Link, says Penang CM
Chow reiterated the state’s readiness to consider all comments and concerns on the PIL1 alignment. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 9 — Penang’s proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) Highway cannot be compared with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) as they are two distinctly different infrastructure projects, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

The Penang lawmaker said one is a highway project and the other is a railway system.

“This is like comparing an apple with an orange,” he told a press conference today.

He also said it is not fair to compare PIL1 with ECRL when the length of both projects is different as PIL1 is only 20km while ECRL is 200km.

“The 20km project is definitely cheaper than the 200km one,” he said.

Chow was responding to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s accusations that Pakatan Harapan (PH) gave the okay to its own costly projects such as PIL1, but criticised the ECRL as a waste of funds.

The Padang Kota assemblyman went through the technical specifications of both the PIL1 and ECRL to point out the differences.

He said the PIL1 tunnels comprise twin tunnels almost three times the size of a single ECRL tunnel, as the railway is narrower.

“The viaduct, which is the elevated highway, is also different as PIL1 is a six-lane highway at 24.5m while the ECRL is a twin track railway at 10.8m,” he said.

Chow said the PIL1 project award procedure is by open tender so the costs for the highway are mere estimations.

“These are estimated costs, when we get the approvals and get the final design then we can get actual cost of the project through open tender which is different from the ECRL which was awarded through direct negotiation,” he said.

This means the final costs for PIL1 will depend on the bids submitted by companies through open tender.

He said the costs for PIL1 included land acquisition while the ECRL did not include such costs.

PIL1 will also be fully self-funded through the Penang South Reclamation while ECRL is fully funded by a “strings-attached loan” from a foreign country, he said.

As for the comparison of PIL1 with the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), Chow said PIL1 consisted of tunnels while Kidex is a fully elevated highway.

“If we only consider PIL1’s elevated section unit rate and multiply it with the length of Kidex, the construction cost will be almost similar at 2013 prices, in fact, the estimated cost for PIL1 will be even cheaper than Kidex at today’s prices,” he said.

Chow then reiterated the state’s readiness to consider all comments and concerns on the PIL1 alignment.

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