Undersea tunnel project yet to yield profit, ex-PDC officer tells court.
KUALA LUMPUR: A former Penang Development Corporation (PDC) senior officer told the sessions court in Lim Guan Eng’s undersea tunnel corruption trial that the project has yet to bring any profit to the state government.
Yeoh Lean Huat, who was PDC senior deputy general manager, said the construction of the tunnel and three bypass roads had yet to commence.
He was the project manager who oversaw the progress of one of the three bypass roads (Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway) under the project.
“We issued a warning letter to contractor Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd for the delay on construction work.
“The delay was due to the change of shareholders in the company as well as the company’s new management wanting to review its detailed design for the road,” Yeoh said.
The undersea tunnel and roads project was mooted by the Penang government to alleviate traffic on the first bridge and to cut down traffic at other congested corridors on the island.
The 7.2km undersea tunnel is to be built from George Town to Butterworth if feasibility studies come back positive.
Besides the tunnel, three bypass roads are to be built: Air Itam to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (5.7km); Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (10.53km); and Gurney Drive to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (4.1km).
Yeoh also testified that the movement control orders (MCOs) from 2020 to 2021 were one of the factors that contributed to the delay.
“I had asked for several measures to be taken to resolve the delay, such as holding monthly meetings at the site and calling monthly meetings of the technical committee,” Yeoh said.
To a question by deputy public prosecutor Mahadi Abdul Jumaat on whether he was satisfied with the progress, Yeoh gave a “less satisfactory” rating.
Under cross examination by Lim’s lawyer Haijan Omar on whether he knew that the project was being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from 2015 to 2018, Yeoh said he was informed about this by his officers.
Haijan: Did the MACC investigations further delay the project?
Yeoh: I cannot comment.
“There were possibilities that I might need to brief MACC on the project,” he said.
The witness told the court that the exchange of federal and state lands also contributed to the delay.
“I took note of it when I was in charge of monitoring the project from October 2019 until my retirement on Dec 31 last year.
“Matters relating to land are not within my purview. The reports on land acquisition are done by the land and mines office and the contractor,” Yeoh added.
Lim is on trial on charges of using his position to ask Consortium Zenith senior director Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli for a 10% cut of the profits from the undersea tunnel project, and accepting RM3.3 million in kickbacks from the businessman.
He is also accused of two counts of dishonestly misappropriating RM208.7 million worth of state land to two companies.
The hearing continues tomorrow before judge Azura Alwi.