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Second Penang Bridge Latest Icon To Propel Development
By Sharifah Nurliza Syed Mohammad and Samantha Tan Chew Ting
GEORGE TOWN, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- Penang will have yet another iconic landmark in the form of the Second Penang Bridge when it is officially opened on Saturday night by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak.
Scheduled to be opened to the public from 12.01 am on Sunday the RM4.5 billion dual carriage toll bridge is expected to draw up to 25 percent of the 100,000 vehicles which cross the first bridge on a daily basis and help ease congestion.
Spanning 24 kilometres it is not only the longest in Malaysia but Southeast Asia as well and connects Batu Kawan on the mainland Peninsula to Batu Maung on Penang island.
"We expect 25,000 vehicles to use the bridge daily, especially from the south," said Datuk Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib the managing director of the special purpose concession company Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB).
The Second Penang Bridge, which is also known as JK2PP, is a federal government project aimed at easing the heavy volume of traffic on the first bridge, especially during peak hours when it is frequently grid locked.
It is also viewed as a key catalyst to further develop the Batu Kawan and Batu Maung industrial areas and boost tourism.
"The bridge is set to become the newest icon for the state and country's tourism sector," said the Penang Branch Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) chairman, Johari Shafie.
He expressed confidence that the new bridge would draw more local and foreign visitors and provide fresh prospects for tourist destinations such as the War Museum, Batu Maung Aquarium and Snake Temple in Batu Maung and Bayan Lepas.
"The bridge's unique architecture will attract tourists who would want to experience crossing it, especially at night when it's lighted up colourfully," he said.
The JK2PP mega federal government project would also stimulate the economy in the DAP-led state, open up job opportunities and benefit Penangites on the whole.
Batu Kawan, which used to be rather deserted, is now showing signs of development with housing projects and even Swedish furniture company Ikea set to open its second branch in the state there.
The economic impact is also clearly seen in the joint venture between local company Aspen Vision and Ikano Pte Ltd, the Ikea franchise company for Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to develop a shopping mall, business centre and residential area.
Aspen Vision has bought a 98-hectare piece of land for RM483.95 million from the Penang Development Corporation for the project.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) vice-president Dr Ooi Eng Hock said the new bridge would stimulate the industrial area in Bayan Lepas and over in Batu Kawan as well.
"The bridge will not only attract more new factories to the Bayan Lepas and Batu Kawan industrial zones but also provide better logistics, transport and other facilities to the existing companies," he said.
The JK2PP project was unveiled in the Ninth Malaysia Plan on Nov 12 2006 and its groundbreaking ceremony was performed by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was the prime minister at the time.
Although Penang is still ruled by DAP, the federal government is committed to its development for the sake of the people in the state.
Universiti Sains Malaysia's Social Science Study Centre deputy dean, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the new bridge was the federal government's effort to maintain the trust and confidence of the local people and investors.
"Whatever we see in Penang today was left by the previous administration, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government" he said.
He said the Penang state government should give BN the due credit for boosting its tourism and industrial sectors.
Penang UMNO Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said the second bridge was also expected to hike real estate prices in places including Bayan Baru, Batu Kawan and Nibong Tebal which were located within the corridor of development.
The construction of the bridge was undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Ltd and UEM Builders Bhd in 2008. It has four lanes with two motorbike lanes, six intersections and equipped with 29 CCTV.
Seventeen kilometres of the bridge will span across the Southern Straits which separates the island and Seberang Perai while 1.5 kilometres will stretch over Batu Maung and 6 kilometres through Batu Kawan.
It is a seismic-resistant bridge incorporating the High Damping Rubber Bearing (HRDB) application to withstand earthquake tremors of up to 8.2 on the Richter-scale.
news coverage in our Newswire service.
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