Federal funding sought for Penang LRT

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GEORGE TOWN — The Penang government has requested federal funding for a proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) project under the Penang Transport Master Plan.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said he wrote to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on June 29 to ask the federal government to fund the RM8.4 billion LRT project.

“The state government needs the federal government to fund the LRT,” he told the legislative assembly yesterday.

He said if the application was rejected, the state government will apply for a low-interest loan from the federal government to fund the project.

In his reply to an oral question by Lee Khai Loon (PH-Machang Bubuk), Chow said the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) remains the main funding option for the master plan.

“The PSR is not only to fund the full cost of LRT and the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1), it will also go towards the operations and maintenance of the LRT and PIL1 in future,” he said.

He said if the PSR was not approved, the state government will need help from the federal government to fund both the PIL1 and LRT projects.

“Other than being a funding model for the master plan, the PSR can be used to resolve land shortage issues for the state,” he said.

He said Penang needs the master plan to resolve the worsening traffic congestion in the state.

Lee interjected to ask if the state was called by the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) to explain the issues raised on the proposed master plan as some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had met with the CEP on the matter.

Chow said he was aware that the NGOs had met with the CEP, but added the CEP did not officially ask to meet the state government on the issue.

He said the state had been patient for the past three years when it applied for approval for the LRT but now with the change in government, the relevant government agencies have started speeding up the process.

“The respective federal agencies are arranging meetings to look at the state’s applications so this is moving forward,” he said.

He said even with protests against the project, the state will remain patient and unperturbed.

“It looks like we will need to remain patient until we get the approvals for the projects,” he said.