More than 607ha of sea land identified for reclamation

More than 1,500 acres (607ha) of sea land off Permatang Damar Laut near Bayan Lepas have been identified for the proposed reclamation that forms part of the land-swap deal with SRS Consortium, the project delivery partner (PDP), for the RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (TMP).

This confirmed rumours circulating lately that the site would be the proposed reclamation site for the land swap instead of the Middle Banks.

Penang State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow (pictured) told The Edge Financial Daily that the Gamuda Bhd-led consortium is currently carrying out a study in the area to ascertain the sustainability of the site for its project costings.

He said the development of the site, which is expected to have a five-time economic multiplier effect amounting to RM100 billion, would not only fund the TMP in phases, but also form a catalyst for growth for the state up to 2050.

“The reclaimed land is expected to house the new Penang International Airport and provide additional space for industries, hence the growth catalyst for Penang,” he said, adding that the sustainability of the TMP would depend on SRS Consortium fulfilling the conditions that include approval from state and federal agencies.

Chow’s confirmation of the site has finally ended rumours for the proposed land reclamation site to fund the TMP on a land-swap basis over the next 15 years.

Earlier, Pulau Betong assemblyman Farid Saad raised the consortium’s apparent link to the southern reclamation following Consumers Association of Penang’s (CAP) queries on onsite studies taking place in Permatang Damar Laut.

Speaking to reporters after his debate on the Penang Budget 2016 motion at the state assembly yesterday, Farid said “obviously” the site had been identified for reclamation previously.

Until now, neither the consortium, which is the PDP for the TMP, nor the state has revealed the actual site that would be reclaimed to fund the TMP featuring highways, public transportation and institutional plans.

The SRS Consortium, made up of Gamuda, Penang-based Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd and Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd, is expected to begin the integrated infrastructure projects following approval from the authorities.

It will be submitting its application for the light rail transit project to the Land Public Transport Commission by the end of the year.

SRS Consortium, a joint venture in which Gamuda holds 60%, with Ideal Property Development and Loh Phoy Yen holding 20% each, received its appointment letter on Aug 14.

Previously, a state official mentioned that 1,500 acres of the Middle Bank section between the island and mainland would be offered for reclamation, which led to a public outcry as it would impact the sensitive seagrass bed near Jelutong.

“The state government is aware of the reclamation site because the TMP was finalised in 2013, but they are not saying anything. An ongoing study in Permatang Damar Laut, which has raised fear among fishermen, was highlighted by the CAP.

“It is quite obvious that SRS Consortium is going to carry out the reclamation work there but the state feigns ignorance,” Farid said, adding that he was uncertain on the size of the land.

Last Wednesday, the CAP urged the state to announce the purpose of works being carried out by a company in that area, comprising survey and measuring works, marking the area and digging the seabed.

The CAP claimed that when asked about the study, the state agencies were unaware of the project or did not provide answers to questions.

“The state will finalise the agreement with SRS Consortium within six months of the appointment date. The method of payment would be through the award of rights to reclaim for development. Revenue from the land would be used to repay the consortium,” Chow said.

Gamuda closed nine sen or 2% lower at RM4.40 yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM10.8 billion. - By Sangeetha Amarthalingam (The Edge Property)

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