Abdullah urged to see through Penang bridge talks
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ought to ensure the completion of the discussions between the government and United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) on the construction of the Second Penang Bridge before he steps down later this month.
Liew Chin Tong (Bukit Bendera-DAP) said today that any increase of cost would put undue burden on the people in Penang who would end up paying toll for generations to come.
He said Abdullah should end corporate welfare for the government-linked company. He also wondered about UEM’s suggestion to spend RM20 million for “ceremony functions” and RM63.51 million for “HQ overhead ad support”.
The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) had ordered Zaidun-Leeng Sdn Bhd, a consultancy company, to review the bridge’s construction cost last year and a report entitled Proposed Penang Second Bridge Crossing Independent Review: Costing Review was published.
The report stated that RM4.3 billion was needed to build the second link, whereby RM2.2 billion would be allocated to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and another RM2.1 billion would be apportioned to UEM which will acquire land and build the super structure.
In November 2008, Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Zaini Omar was reported as saying that the discussion with UEM on the building cost would be completed within a week.
Subsequently, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (Bagan-DAP) was told during a question-and-answer session in parliament early this month that the discussion would be completed sometime this month.
Liew, who spoke in the parliament lobby, said while he welcomed the open tender system for the toll management, he was concerned that UEM would end up having a higher contract price.
“The report commissioned by EPU, which was ready last July, was based on material costs which were at a record high and had regarded the RM4.3 billion quoted as fair price.
“If that is fair price then UEM must accept the RM2.1 billion as the cost and should not be allowed to suggest a higher price,” said Liew.
Decide on Penang’s second bridge project
Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Bukit Bendera) asked the federal government not to condone UEM Builders Bhd’s escalated offers, if there was one, in the construction of Penang’s second bridge.
Liew said the prices today are far more lower than they were in July last year. Therefore the federal government should reduce the cost which according to Liew stands at RM4.3 billion.
“Last November, the media had reported that Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Zaini Omar would complete negotiations with UEM on the cost of building the bridge in one week,” said Liew.
JKSB is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by the government to supervise and fast-track the second Penang bridge project.
“But that one week deadline ended a long time ago and yet the negotiations had not been resolved,” he said.
At a press conference in Parliament today, Liew appealed to outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to get involved in the decision to build what will be the longest bridge in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
Liew added that Pak Lah would be remembered and honoured if he resolves the glitches before the end of his tenure this month.
According to a report by consultancy firm Zaidun-Leeng Bhd, UEM should be given RM2.1 billion instead, he said.