Friday, April 10, 2009

Swettenham Pier set to welcome larger vessels

The cruise terminal is expected to be completed by September 30, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat

PENANG is set to welcome larger cruise ships and passenger vessels by September, when the much-delayed redevelopment of Swettenham Pier is finally completed, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat says.

The project, which took off in May 2006, was originally scheduled for completion in April last year. Among its components is an international cruise terminal.

"The cruise terminal is expected to be completed by September 30. As of April 1, the project was 86.5 per cent completed," Ong told Business Times via e-mail.

Last year, the Transport Ministry unveiled a discrepancy of RM3.5 million in a claim for progressive payment from the contractor of the redevelopment project for the pier.

Ong said in August that the contractor had sought RM5.4 million as progressive payment in documents dated March 21 last year when the value of the work was RM1.92 million.

He said the discrepancy was discovered a few days after he took over as minister.

It is now learnt that the project is likely to only exceed its RM65 million tag slightly, and that the original contractor is seeing to the completion of the project.

Sources said the contractor was not terminated because the project would be further delayed if new tenders are to be called, and there was a likelihood of the work costing considerably more.

"However, the ministry has laid very strict conditions on the contractor now, and one of them is that all sub-contracting jobs and payment are to be made by the Penang Port Commission (PPC)," a source said.

"The PPC is seeing to the necessary arrangements to ensure that the project is back on track," Ong said.

"Liquidated and ascertained damages of RM15,000 per day are also being imposed on the contractor for the delay," he added.

On when the new terminal will be open, Ong said: "It will be operational when it receives the occupational certificate from the local authorities."

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