MegaProject 100: Malaysia's region signs 30-year tunnel concession with Chinese state-owned firm
Penang BridgeThis article is part of a daily series of MegaProjects articles. If you want to know more about PPP projects with a considerable size visit our MegaProjects section. You can receive them by email on a daily basis.A consortium formed by Chinese state-owned companies, China Railway Construction Corporation International (CRCC) and Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG), with Malaysian companies Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd and Juteras Sdn Bhd; has signed a concession agreement with Penang government to conduct feasibility studies, design, build and operate Southeast Asia's first undersea tunnel.
The tunnel will be designed to alleviate traffic on Penang Bridge, a dual carriageway toll bridge connects the island of Penang and Seberang Prai on the mainland of Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula.
Penang Bridge was opened to traffic in 1985 and, with 13.5 km, is the fourth-longest in Southeast Asia. Malaysia's PLUS Expressway Berhad manages a concession to operate the bridge. According to sources, the bridge is currently operating close to its capacity (85,000 vehicles daily).
The preliminary agreement between Penang government and Consortium Zenith BUCG marks the go-ahead of the RM6.3 billion (US$1.97 billion) project. In March, Consortium Zenith BUCG was awarded the massive project with a land swap and a 30-year concession on the tunnel.
The initial phase of the feasibility studies and detailed design (FSDD) project will take about a year and a half.
The development is split in four phases, of which the 6.5km Penang-Butterworth undersea tunnel will be the last one to be built. Start of construction of the sea tunnel is expected for 2017. Other phases include more than 20 Km of expressways.
The sea tunnel will be the only stretch of the development where tolls will be charged.
According to an statement released by the government, CRCC will undertake 70% of the construction while Consortium Zenith BUCG will carry out the remaining 30%. CRCC has experience in under sea tunnels because it constructed the Xiamen Xiang'an undersea tunnel, the first subsea tunnel in mainland China and the Nanjing Yangtze river tunnel.
The consortium has designed a website outlining more information about the project.