KUALA LUMPUR: Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd expects to complete a feasibility study on the controversial RM6.3 billion George Town-Butterworth undersea tunnel project in April, two months earlier than scheduled.
“We should be able to complete the feasibility study in April. We anticipate to start construction by end-2015 or early 2016,” Consortium Zenith BUCG chairman Datuk Zarul Ahmad Zulkifli told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the consortium and Koperasi Staff CIDB (KoCIDB) here yesterday.
The study was originally due for completion in June.
Subsequently, the consortium will embark on a detailed design of the underground tunnel linking Penang island and the mainland as well as three major highway projects that will help ease traffic on the island.
The projects will involve a 12km dual carriageway from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, followed by a 5km road and tunnel from Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu to Ayer Itam and a 4.2km road and tunnel from Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu to Persiaran Gurney Highway.
The final phase of the project will be the 7.2km Penang-Butterworth link, of which 6.5km will be the undersea tunnel.
Zarul said construction of the mega project will only begin after the consortium has obtained the Penang government’s approval for the detailed environmental impact assessment on the project.
As part of preparations for the construction process, the consortium’s MoA with KoCIDB is to supply and manage workers for the project. KoCIDB is a society under the Construction Industry Development Board.
While the value of the package was not disclosed, KoCIDB chairman Dr Rohaizi Mohd Jusoh said such labour supply and management packages usually cost about 25% of the total project value.
Based on the RM6.3 billion value pegged for the entire undersea tunnel plus major roads, the management package could be worth RM1.58 billion.
For starters KoCIDB will begin construction of the first Integrated Construction Workers Complex (ICWC) estimated to cost between RM10 million and RM15 million, by the first quarter of 2015.
“We need the ICWC to be completed before we start construction [of the undersea tunnel project],” said Zarul.
The complex will span 14,164 sq m and will cater to a full range of amenities such as cafeteria, sports centre, clinic and supermarket for a 2,000-strong workforce.
Consortium Zenith BUCG, a special purpose vehicle established in July 2012, is a partnership between Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd, Justeras Sdn Bhd, and two China state-owned conglomerates Beijing Urban Construction Group and China Railway Construction Corp.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 24, 2014.