The 2nd Penang Bridge in Penang connecting Batu Maung in the south-eastern part of the Penang Island to Batu Kawan on the mainland will supersede the existing bridge in being the longest in the country and South-East Asia when completed. Its total length of 23.5km will take approximately 20 minutes to travel across at 80km per hour. In the latest update, the bridge is scheduled for completion in September 2013, after numerous delays.
Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong raised questions at the Dewan Rakyat pertaining to the cost of the second bridge which now stands at RM4.5 billion. It was formerly RM4.3 billion in 2008 when the price of oil was at its peak. He further asked for clarifications for an amount of RM20 million which was being allocated for ceremonial duties and RM63.51 million which was for overhead and support expenses. The Prime Minister, Najib Razak in his reply stated that the cost of the bridge had not risen but did not elaborate on the RM83.51 million. He also confirmed that the said cost includes the construction of the casting yard by CHEC Construction (M) Sdn. Bhd. and UEM Builders Bhd.
In a press conference held at the CHEC office in Batu Maung, CM Lim Guan Eng revealed that the 2nd Penang Bridge was now 25 percent completed. The substructure of the bridge, at RM2.2billion is managed by CHEC Construction, a China-based company, while its superstructure, at RM1.5 billion by UEM Builders. Three other companies were awarded to build the highways. Cergas Murni Sdn. Bhd. for the Batu Maung area at RM67 million; IJM Corp Bhd for the Batu Kawan area at RM350 million; and HRA Teguh Sdn. Bhd. for the roads joining the North-South Highway at RM152 million.
An impact study on the bridge showed that it could withstand collision of up to 1 Mega Newton; and has a seismic loading of up to 8.0 on the Richter scale. The 2nd Penang Bridge has a lifespan of 120 years.
Commenting on the toll increase in 2013, CM Lim said that Penang will oppose the hike and that there will be an anti-RM9.40 Penang Bridge Toll Rate meeting. This would be a 34 percent increase from the current RM7.00. Drawing parallels to Najib’s Persian cat which he recently purchased to which he asked for suggestions for names, Lim was peeved that the PM did not consult the 1.5million residents in Penang Island for the hike in toll rates.