Friday, November 13, 2009

Motion to scrap bridge to Sumatra rejected

The effort by the Opposition to scrap this project has failed but should we be rejoicing or worry about the consequences?

Motion to scrap bridge to Sumatra rejected

MALACCA: After much debate, a motion by the opposition to cancel the proposed RM44bil Malacca-Sumatra bridge project was rejected through a vote among the assemblymen at the Malacca State Assembly yesterday.

Khoo Phoay Tiong (Ayer Keroh – DAP), who moved the motion, said the bridge was impractical and could end up being a white elephant and a financial burden.

“Although it is said to be a private venture, the state would eventually be burdened with the cost because it had endorsed it,” he said, adding that the money could be used to upgrade the state’s ferry terminal and airport instead.

Tey Kok Kiew (Bandar Hilir – DAP) queried the accuracy of the forecasted economic benefits of the bridge project, noting that the estimation of 15,000 vehicles using the bridge daily and toll collection ranging from RM266 to RM301 as an inaccurate forecast.

He also questioned the danger of locating the bridge some 100km from Indonesia’s earthquake zone.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam clarified that the project would be a private initiative between China’s Axim Bank and local consortium Malacca Straits Development.

“The bank had agreed to finance up to 85% for the construction of the US$13bil (RM44bil) bridge with the local company having to bear the remaining 15% of the cost,” he said, adding that the idea for a bridge between Malaysia and Indonesia was mooted by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“We live in a shrinking world today and the bridge will not only bring economic benefits but also improve relations between our two countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, during the break, Mohd Ali confirmed that the state had notified the Economic Planning Unit of the proposed project and the progress between the two parties.

The proposed bridge, spanning some 37km, would link Malacca’s Telok Gong in Alor Gajah to Sumatra’s Pulau Rupat, Dumai and Pekan Baru.

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