Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Malacca revives straits bridge project

The Malacca Government has revived the controversial 48.69km-long Malacca-Dumai, Indonesia, bridge project across the Straits of Malacca, after a seven-year lull.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said finer details of the project linking Teluk Gong in Malacca in the peninsula to the port of Dumai, in Sumatra, would be revealed when all mechanisms were in place.

If implemented, the bridge straddling the busiest international shipping waterway would be the world’s longest, even without including a 71.2km-long highway to be built between Dumai and Pulau Rupat, the closest connecting point.

“The project was discussed during the 10th Chief Ministers and Governors’ Forum (CMGF) of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) convened in Koh Samui, Thailand, on Sept 12.

“The forum took note of the economic potential and strategic positioning of the IMT-GT with the construction of the Malacca-Dumai Bridge,” Idris said yesterday.

Insights on a feasibility study on the bridge undertaken by Strait of Malacca Partners Sdn Bhd were given during the meeting.

The company had earlier appointed the Hunan Provincial Communi-cations Planning, Survey & Design Institute of China to prepare documents pertaining to the study.

The idea of the bridge was first mooted in 1995 to foster new economic opportunities, especially in trade and tourism, between the two countries but died down during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

In 2006, then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam restored interest in the project by saying that the groundwork for it had started and that studies showed that the bridge was technically feasible.

He also announced that the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China had agreed to finance 85% of the link’s total cost, then estimated at RM44.3bil.

The proposal was submitted to the Economic Planning Unit with details on how the bridge would stimulate economic activities between the peninsula and Sumatra.

However, the plan came under strong objection from various quarters, including environmentalists.

Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof, when contacted, said he was yet to be briefed on plans to revive the project.


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