Saturday, January 28, 2006

There are bridges & there are bridges!

The company that has been given the contact to build the ‘scenic’ crooked bridge half-way across the Straits of Johore is Gerbang Perdana. It was incorporated on Sept 26, 1998, and owned by a consortium of three shareholders – Merong Mahawangsa Sdn Bhd (60%), DRB-Hicom Berhad (20%), and Detik Nagasari Sdn Bhd (20%). The chairman is Tan Sri Razali Ismail and the managing director Datuk Yahya A. Jalil.

Gerbang Perdana has been given a 33-year concession by the government to design, finance, build, operate and transfer the bridge, which comprises five components: the bridge to replace the Causeway, a CIQ complex, new interchanges, road upgrading and a rail link.

In April last year, Malaysia's very own Humpty Dumpty threatened "If both sides [meaning the Malaysian & Singapore governments] fail to reach agreement, we will continue with this (contingency plan). We will demolish the Johor Causeway on our side of the border and from there, we will build the bridge which will be 18 metres above the sea level to enable small ships to pass through."

Demolish the Causeway? Wow! Is that the tactic to force the Singapore government into completing the other half of the ‘scenic’ bridge?

In 2003, DAP Lim Kit Siang asked why the bridge had to be meandered, making the length on the Malaysian side 3 times longer and thus 3 times more expensive that a straightforward (excuse the deliberate pun) straight one.

Perhaps it’s to make the view more ‘scenic’? But let's continue our discussions of bridges.

In Pengkalan Pasir village near Kota Baru, Kelantan, its villagers cross a canal by means of a rotting wooden bridge, that had and injured a couple of people and killed even more, including the last two in 2005, 5-year old Noralili Mohd Yusof and 65-year old Khatijah Rahmatullah.

I blogged on that in February 2005 over at BolehTalk in The Bridge of Death.

The villages had actually raised notice of the decrepit and dangerous state of the bridge to the authorities, but as usual in such a rural village, especially in PAS-controlled Kelantan, nothing was done. In such a situation where a non Barisan Nasional Party governed the State, there would be the perpetual argument over who the responsible authority had been, the State or the Federal government, but the people who were either injured or killed were all Malaysians.

One wonders how many such rural bridges and how many pot-holed tracks in the kampongs (villages) could have been repaired and how many personal computers purchased for use in the kampong schools with the RM2 billion the government has allocated to the construction of a ‘scenic’ bridge to nowhere!

Malaysian 'Cynics' will have 'Scenic' Bridge to Nowhere!

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