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Friday, 10 August 2018

(The Star) Chow: Big difference between PIL 1 and ECRL


GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says it is wrong to compare the Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 highway project with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

“There are major differences between a highway and a railway. Comparing the cost between two distinctly different infrastructures is like comparing apples with oranges.

“Without strong grounds for a like-for-like comparison, the public could be misled by distorted assertions by individuals who compare the cost per kilometre between a highway and a railway,” he told a press conference on the sidelines of the state assembly sitting yesterday.

Chow was responding to former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who had criticised Pakatan Harapan for condemning the projects he had started but allowing its own costly projects to continue.

Najib said the Pakatan government was firm in constructing its mega projects such as PIL 1, which is 19.5km long and costs RM7.5bil, or RM385mil per km.

He said the cost had increased to RM9bil or RM461mil per km, while ECRL only cost RM55bil for 688km, equivalent to RM80mil per km.

Najib also said the ECRL cost included the building of 27 stations and a 50km tunnel.

Chow said ECRL’s initial cost of RM55bil had ballooned to RM80bil, taking into account land acquisition and financial interest.

“PIL 1 is fully funded with revenue generated from the Penang South Reclamation project unlike ECRL, which would have been financed by a foreign loan to be repaid with taxpayers’ money.

“The PIL 1 cost is preliminary and will only be finalised after an open tender,” he said.

On Najib’s comparison of PIL 1 to the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), Chow said the PIL 1 alignment consists of tunnels, while Kidex has no tunnel and is fully elevated.

“If we only consider PIL 1’s elevated section unit rate and multiply it with the length of Kidex, the construction cost will be similar based on 2013 prices.

“Kidex was also smaller than PIL 1 as Kidex had four lanes compared to six lanes under PIL 1,” he said.

Wanita MCA vice-chairman Sena­tor Datuk Ong Chong Swen said the government should engage with the people through open dialogues to gather public feedback on the project.