Monday, April 14, 2008

Penang wants toll cut if bridge is late


(STAR) PENANG: The state government wants a “toll discount” to be given to Penangites if the Second Penang Bridge is not completed by Jan 1, 2011.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state would ask for the punitive provision to be enforced as a “guarantee that the delivery of the project is on schedule.”

“The bridge is a federal project but is on state land. Ultimately, the cost of the building will be borne by Penangites, so we will discuss this matter privately with the Federal Government and the contractor involved,” he said after Vaisakhi prayers at the Gurdwara Sahib yesterday.

Lim said the state wanted to know the toll rates for the 24km second bridge, which would link Batu Maung on the island with Batu Kawan in Seberang Prai.

“For example, if toll charges are RM9, a discount of 15% should be given if the project is late. Otherwise, they can take forever to complete the structure. If this cannot be done, we will have to explore other possibilities,” he said.

Asked to comment on the bridge cost escalating from RM3.5bil to RM4.3bil, Lim said he would wait for an official report before commenting.

At a meeting held on April 11 between the Finance Ministry, bridge builder UEM Builders Bhd and main contractor China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd, the Federal Government had finalised the cost of the second bridge at RM4.3bil.

Earlier at his Komtar office, Lim said the state government had agreed in principle to allow all non-profit educational institutions in Penang, including independent schools, to pay a nominal RM1 fee for quit rent.

The new ruling was expected to be gazetted soon, he told newsmen.

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