Friday, May 1, 2009

PAC to look into subsidy for smart tunnel

KUALA LUMPUR (April 30, 2009): The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) plans to discuss a subsidy plan for the SMART Tunnel toll with the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM).

PAC committee member and Kepong Member of Parliament Dr Tan Seng Giaw said an appropriate subsidy would be able to match the needs of the public and SMART Tunnel contractors, Gamuda Berhad and MMC Corporation Berhad.

"The cost to build the SMART Tunnel was about RM1.9 billion where the government had spent RM1.3 billion while the balance of RM600 million came from the contractor.

"To operate and maintain the tunnel effectively, the toll rate must be reasonable. But if this were to happen, the toll rate imposed by the contractor could be too exorbitant for the public.

"As such, PAC will discuss with the LLM to come up with a reasonable subsidy each year," Dr Tan told a press conference today after a visit by PAC members to the Sungai Batu Project's Water Retention Area (Jinjang Pond) in Jinjang.

The SMART Tunnel was designated as Package A (catering to the Masjid Jamek area) of the Kuala Lumpur Flood Mitigation System and its toll rate is RM2 for users.

As for the uncompleted Jinjang Pond bypass, which falls under Package B, PAC committee member and Tumpat Member of Parliament Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar said the bypass would be completed within three to four months' time.

"The Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) cannot be blamed for the two-year delay. Due to financial constraints, the main contractors could not complete the bypass.

"Now, the DID is dealing directly with the sub-contractor to complete whatever is necessary and there is no additional cost for the project," said Kamaruddin, adding that only four per cent of the RM580 million project was incomplete.

Package B would be able to absorb up to 70 to 80 per cent of rainwater from Sungai Gombak, Sungai Batu, Sungai Jinjang and Sungai Kerud, preventing floods such as the one which occurred at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in March.

Excess rainwater would be redirected to the two bypasses leading into the Jinjang Pond and the Batu Pond which were already completed.

DID Director-General Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman said two more tentative ponds at Puah and Benteng might also be developed. -- BERNAMA

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