Sunday, February 03, 2013

Are the RM8 billion Highways the Solution to Penang's Traffic/Congestion Problem?

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced a four-part major road proposal last night, his supporters heaved a big sigh of relief.

He said the state executive council has decided to award a company the tender to construct four major traffic roads in Penang.

He did not name the company but it is known that the massive undertaking, costing a whopping RM8 billion will begin in 2015.

"If we had control, we would want the best. But in this case, even if we had our own money, we cannot do it. What do we do then? We have proposed four major road projects for the most congested roads," he said.

The four proposed projects involves the 4.2km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu expressway, 4.6km Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass (four-lanes), 6.5km Penang-Butterworth Tunnel and a 12km road connecting Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang (four lanes).

"Since the federal government does not want to give us public transport, we will built alternative roads.

"If we had control, we would want the best. But in this case, even if we had our own money, we cannot do it. What do we do then? We have proposed four major road projects for the most congested roads," he said.

The four proposed projects involves the 4.2km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu expressway, 4.6km Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu-Bandar Baru Air Itam bypass (four-lanes), 6.5km Penang-Butterworth Tunnel and a 12km road connecting Tanjung Bungah and Teluk Bahang (four lanes).

On the island's on-going traffic woes, Lim lamented that Penang has no control over public transport as it comes under the federal administration. 

There are several issues that must be addressed before the Penang State Government embarks on the projects:

1. Where is the funding coming from? How can the state government justify spending RM8 billion  to build 4 major expressways to solve traffic problem in Penang? 

2. Are more lands going to be swapped to pay for the construction? It is best for the state government to provide us with full details of the deal. This project is dubbed as the most ambitious and expensive road project in Penang and transparency is sorely required here.

3. Did the state government conduct a peak analysis/assessment on these areas? If peak use lasts only 1-2 hours a day, the new lanes will not be utilized for the rest of the day. Does it justify spending so much money on the 4 mega projects worth RM8 billion?

4. Analyses pointed that building more highways only provide temporary or short term congestion relief and will cause other kinds of traffic and travel problems. In short, wider highways induce more traffic. Those new users ultimately have to exit the highway somewhere, producing more traffic on secondary roads where expansion is not possible. The Penang-Butterworth tunnel is a good example. More cars are going to take the tunnel to reach Gurney Drive. It is going to cause parking challenge to the area and congestion on secondary roads leading to Bagan Jermal, Pulau Tikus, Mount Erskine and Tanjong Tokong.

5. Lim Guan Eng uses the justification of inaction from the federal government to provide better public transport to Penang to build the highways does not represent a prudent policy decision. It surely does not take the state government RM8 billion to offer better intra-state public buses/mini buses. During the administration of the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a number of routes were supported by MPPP buses. Politically, it would be a suicide for the BN federal government to stop the state from running its own public transport. Lim's argument is rather simplistic and unconvincing.

The state government, supported by its newly assembled think-tank Penang Institute, should come out with better policy interventions to help reduce congestion problem in the state e.g. levy a tax on crowded routes, enforcing car-pooling, better distribution of traffic, provide better public transport, promoting flexible working hours, building new commercial networks around the state rather than crowding out a few commercial and industrial hubs etc. 

Building more highways and adding new lines are not going to solve congestion problem in the long run. It is just a temporary relief on parts where new lines are added but will soon create problems at other parts of the city.

Since the Pakatan coalition is confident of capturing Putrajaya in the next 13 GE, will Lim Guan Eng stops the highway projects if his coalition wins power? Lim administration should not award the project until after the 13GE and after a proper study of the issue. I am sure any responsible government, using the same justification, would do the same. 

I would like to urge Penang BN chief Teng Chang Yeow to help convince the federal government to work with the Penang state government to expand public bus routes in the state and to add more buses to serve both Penang island and Seberang Perai.

Political contestation should not cause unnecessary hardship to the people. Politicians should manage the size of their ego.

16 comments:

UP41 said...

Sad!!! I think the whole model of development for Penang under PR is no different from BN. $$$ come first.

I went to Penang 2 years back and purposely tested the Island's bus service and I knew PR/DAP has not given much thought to it.

If not of the critical GE this round I think many in Pg would vote the other way to teach DAP a lesson

Fung C.F. said...

I am not sure whether u r living in pg or not (likely that u r not), u should experience the bottle neck congestion of Jalan Masjid Negeri from 8am to 10pm, and u will know that if nothing is to be done in the next 5 to 10 years, no one would wanna live in pg anymore.

I agree that not all 4 projects are justifiable, but at least the Gurney Drive-Tun LCE expressway and Bandar Baru Ayer Itam-Tun LCE expressway must be up and running, if not Jalan Masjid Negeri will be forever jam up.

like u said, wider highways will induce traffic, what u dunno is, there r only 2 to 3 access roads to Tg Tokong and Gurney Drive, and if no new access road available, we will only get more and more jam (try googlemap it and see).

Of course, we would want the state government to minimize the investment cost in such projects. But this is a social welfare project more than an economic project. As a citizen in Pg, I would definitely want this congestion problem to be solved no matter what.

malayanboy said...

I suspect this is political play by LGE for GE13.

I am sure he is smart enough to know that an efficient public transport system is the way to go.

Afterall, he has visited Singapore enough times to experience it.

Anonymous said...

KHOO KAY PING,

YOUR ARTICLE IS NOT SUPPORTING LGE AND CAUSE OF pakatan RAKYAT.

SO SIMPLE YOU DONT UNDERSTAND OR YOU REALLY THAT SIMPLE MINDED?

The main mistake of your article is you should not have question it from this angle.

You can question it from this angle only if cronies were involved. Are you BN boot licker?

Anonymous said...

Fung CF is spot on. Only Penangites know the problem well, except Koh Bo Hood and his gang. Penang needs outer ring roads - alternative to the only main road like Green lane (for travellers from Tg Bungah to Bayan Lepas, also from Farlim to Green Lane, from Town to Green lane. All these road have only 1 access. So outer ring roads will definitely reduce all the number of traffics into the bottle necks.

As for the bus service and even MRT - it is not easy solution as it needs a lot more money for that simply because Penang population are more staggered as the town planning was not done properly since long time ago.

BRONCO

najib manaukau said...

Just remember the congestion just did not happen over the last few years since the opposition came to power. It was being built up over the last few decades when BN was in control but had 'overlooked' to plan for the congestion that is becoming so obvious now.

Anonymous said...

The PeeeeeeeeeeM knows that there will not be many people coming to his CYN celebration. So he has to get that Gangnam pyscho to attract the crowds so as to make him look popular. Sigh…..Another million bucks of hard earned rakyat money goes done the drain. I hope the rakyat from Penang wake up and wear yellow dress to the celebration to show their displeasure. Actually we have great “Guest Stars” in BN like that porno king and his gang. If they perform, I guarantee “FULL HOUSE” or may be we will be in the Guiness book of records to have the most people wearing yellows shirts attending CNY celebration.

Anonymous said...

Building more roads for Penang is a poor idea. A good public transit system is sorely needed beyond the current & inadequate Rapid Penang bus system.

What is needed is some form of LRT system like in KL with an undersea connection to the mainland.


Jayhawk

sinleong said...

sometimes people talk without thinking and then bark up the wrong tree. UP41 blames the penang state govt for the state buses without knowing that these buses are run by prasarana, a federal BN govt entreprise.

UP41 said...

Both rapid KL / rapid Penang are belong to the same group ie under federal. I found out this when I were in Pg trying to take bus.

But why I still opine that ? Your guess will reflect more on you than me.


Anyway it is just opinion. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aiyo UP41,
Still trying to cover your first mistake by 2nd mistake? Since you already know Rapid PG is under Prasarana, and please help to bark Prasarana for the 80 additional buses which supposed to deliver to Penang last year, but was sent to Kuantan to kill other local bus operators. Please help.

Anonymous said...

If public transport is good in Penang now, you think Barisan has a chance to win back? If public transport is good in Malaysia, you think u need 2 cars at home, especially you look at your garage, A proton and A Perodua and probably another Modena for spare.

Roob said...

fantastically written.

at times like this, it is best to not heed a word politicians say.

Anonymous said...

This suggestion is BS. How long you never take bus? Do you know how to take bus back your house? Do it first.... then only propose.

"" should come out with better policy interventions to help reduce congestion problem in the state e.g. levy a tax on crowded routes, enforcing car-pooling, better distribution of traffic, provide better public transport, promoting flexible working hours, building new commercial networks around the state rather than crowding out a few commercial and industrial hubs etc. ""

Anonymous said...

Penang definately need more expressway and better transport system like MRT. But both system need approval from PUTRAJAYA. Is not under state government. State can do it if using own money but still approval is questionable.
Fund? Only way to get quick fund is by donation or concession, and swapping of land (land fully control by state). Look at Kelantan (Kuala Krai-Kota Bharu expressway) take years for federal to complete, until state come out with own money and private support.
Friends and Khoo, do not just look at economic and fund of point, is about yourself. Putting yourself as CM, what can and will do?

Anonymous said...

hi KKP,
For the past many months, I have reservation on your other opinions published in this blog. But, I have to agree with your points in this article.

Nicely written!