BUTTERWORTH, Oct 7 (Bernama) -- Work on Penang's second bridge, linking the island with the mainland, will start from Nov 12.
Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the construction would start with piling works at Simpang Ampat here.
"The ground breaking ceremony will be performed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi," he told reporters after presenting aid to poor folks here Saturday. The gathering was organised by the Bagan Umno Division.
The bridge, spanning over 26 kilometres, would link Batu Maung on the island and Batu Kawan on the mainland.
The RM2.7 billion second bridge project was announced by Abdullah when tabling the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) in Parliament last March.
The original plan for the bridge construction was approved and announced in 2003. It was to overcome the problem of traffic congestion on the 21-year-old Penang Bridge which links Prai and Gelugor.
Nor Mohamed said despite the teething problems, the government wanted to speed up construction of the second bridge to stimulate the country's economy.
He said the main contractor for the project was United Engineers Malaysia Berhad (UEM) which had been directed to distribute the minor works in the project to Bumiputera contractors in Penang.
Nor Mohamed said the government wanted the benefits from the construction of the second bridge to be shared by all including Class F contractors.
"We will give priority to Bumiputera contractors in Penang and the distribution of minor jobs will be managed by the main contractor, UEM," he said.
Nor Mohamed, who was also assigned by Abdullah to resolve the Malay issue in Penang, said the government's current focus was to resolve the housing issues among the Malays in the state.
Results from a study showed that house prices in Penang were too high hence, creating a single race monopoly in any housing project, he added.
Furthermore, the monopoly practice was unhealthy as it hindered the promotion of a multiracial community at housing schemes, and the government's aim now was to place the Malays at every new housing areas, he added.