THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Monday, December 22, 2008

> Train contractor ticked off

The electric train double-track main contractor - MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd - was ticked off for trying to ‘pass the buck’ to the Penang government to address the issue of relocating temples affected by the project.

Deputy Chief Minister Dr P Ramasamy blasted MMC-Gamuda for being unethical and irresponsible, and called on the company to initiate an amicable solution soon to resolve the outstanding contentious issue.

“Since it’s a federal project undertaken by MMC-Gamuda, the onus is on the company to show some commitment to tackle the issue,” he told press conference in George Town today.

Some 37 non-Muslim places of worship, mostly Hindu temples, are affected by the project to construct 63km double track across Penang mainland.

The contentious issue here is the compensation and a place for relocation for the temples, which MMC-Gamuda attempted to involve the unwilling state government.

During a recent meeting with its representatives, Ramasamy was particularly irked by the company’s stance that the temples were illegal structures.

“I have told the company not to classify them as illegal because the temples have existed for decades.

“How could the temples suddenly become illegal structures overnight just because of the double-track project?” he said, adding that the state government wants the company to resolve the issue soon.

Earlier at the same press meet, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng lashed out at the company for giving out inadequate compensation to private house owners and places of worship in its land acquisition process for the project.
Higher compensation, please

“The compensation rate in Perlis cannot be the same as in Penang due to the higher cost of living.

“The company should consider giving a higher quantum to compensate not only for land acquisition but also for relocation process for them.

“The house owners may not be able to buy even a bathroom with the amount the company plans to compensate according to market valuation,” he told newsmen.

The RM12.485 billion double-track project which stretches from Ipoh to Padang Besar started in January this year and expected to be ready in Janury 2013.

The alignment for the 329km Ipoh-Padang Besar double-track project cuts across the four northern states of Penang, Perak, Kedah and Perlis. It will be linked between Ipoh and Rawang by another 179km double-track.

Piling works for the electrified double-track rail project in the Seberang Perai Utara (SPU) district has started following the state government’s approval to the company to acquire 24 residential and three commercial units, and two temples.

But the project hit a snag in Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) and Selatan (SPS) districts after the state government rued about the compensation and relocation of the Hindu and Chinese temples.

The company needs to acquire 420 residential and 40 commercial units, 26 temples and two suraus in SPT, and 45 houses, five commercial premises and nine temples in SPS.

A total 833 plots of land covering some 153.86 will also be acquired in Penang by MMC-Gamuda - Malaysiakini.