LETTER | The Penang South Island (PSI) project was planned in order to finance the LRT project for the purpose of tackling traffic congestion problems on the island.
However, the Penang government should make the public bus transport system the solution to the traffic congestion problems, and not an LRT project.
Despite the recent announcements to scale down the project, according to Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), there will still be serious negative effects towards the fishery spawning grounds and the environment.
It will also involve large volumes of sand for the reclamation from Penang or Perak waters, causing more damage.
Not only will the fisherfolk near the immediate site be affected but also those along Penang, Kedah and Perak waters will also be impacted as a result of the degradation of marine habitat and shrimp migration.
The latest estimated price tag for the reclamation works, together with infrastructure development after scaling it down, is RM8.5 billion.
Also previously, the prime minister announced that the federal government will provide additional funds for the LRT project.
All these funds allocated to finance the LRT project to tackle traffic congestion is far too high and not cost-effective.
This is because there is an alternative solution, that is, improving the public bus transport system, which is far cheaper and more effective in resolving the traffic congestion woes.
If the government decides to improve the public bus transport system, such huge amounts of government funds need not be used to finance these projects and instead can be spent on socioeconomically-uplifting programmes for the people.
It can also be used to provide subsidies to cover essential services and needs, especially to help the B40 community.
Instead of launching an LRT project to tackle traffic congestion problems, the public bus transport system should be expanded and increased throughout Penang, as well as made more effective and efficient by the state government.
This will encourage its citizens to use buses as their main mode of transport instead of their own cars.
Scrap unpopular PSI
At the same time, car parking fees in the city can be increased and the import tax on purchasing foreign cars can be imposed towards those who purchase such vehicles.
These actions will encourage people to use buses more than their own cars, directly reducing the number of vehicles on Penang roads, and will ultimately resolve the traffic congestion problems.
It’s very clear that a lot of Malaysians, as well as NGOs, oppose the PSI project. There are several press statements issued by these NGOs that clearly and rationally provide solid reasons as to why this reclamation project must be scrapped.
It’s for certain, that should the government carry out this project, the voters’ support for both the current state and federal governments will fall.
Therefore, the state and federal governments need to cancel the PSI project, as well as the LRT project immediately.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.