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New Bridge Bring A Stream Of Benefits

03 March 2014
Media : New Straits Times

SPILLOVER EFFECTS: Northern Perak shares in joy of neighbour TODAY marks day two of the opening of the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge. Malaysians, Penangites in particular, are celebrating the nation's latest pride, built at a cost of RM4.5 billion.

They have every reason to do so as the 24km link (17km of which is over water) is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.

People in this silver state, along with those in Kedah and Perlis, are no exception either. They, too, share in the joy of their neighbour.

After all, the four states come under the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), which focuses on accelerating economic growth and elevating income in northern Peninsular Malaysia by becoming a world-class economic region in the year 2025.

In this line of duty, and being assigned to Penang for the last two weeks, I was given the honour to get a close-up view of the bridge during an interview with concessionaire Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB).

For Perak, the new bridge promises a whole lot of benefits, especially in terms of the economy and tourism.

The link to Penang island is bound to open up industrial areas in the state's north, especially Kamunting and the Kerian district, to greater demand in line with the Greater Kamunting initiative mooted by the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority.

The Greater Kamunting development area, encompassing Kamunting and Taiping, has the potential to attract RM18 billion in investments until 2030. All together, there will be 34 entry-point projects, which include manufacturing, tourism, logistics and agriculture.

The aim is to transform the area into a high-technology park like the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah.

"Kamunting and Taiping's close proximity to the Penang International Airport, via the Second Penang Bridge, will particularly boost the economy in northern Perak, more so now than before," state Industry, Investment and Corridor Development Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid told the New Straits Times. "The increase in accessibility also places the Greater Kamunting development area in a good position to host the northern region's second high-technology park."

Kerian district is home to approximately 150,000 people. Parit Buntar, the biggest town, is adjacent to Nibong Tebal in Seberang Prai, Penang, and is 20 minutes away from the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge via the North-South Expressway.

The district has well-established industries on a 90ha area, with over 30 factories involved in seafood processing, furniture, electronics, packaging and textile industries.

Aquaculture activities are abound at Bukit Merah, famed for its kelisa emas (golden Arowana).

Nearly 300,000 fishes of various Arowana species, worth nearly RM200 million, were reportedly produced from the Bukit Merah aquaculture zone in recent years. While most of these fishes have been sold to Penang, the bulk is exported to China.

Apart from the economic sector, Perak's tourism industry is also set for a boost, particularly its internationally acclaimed sites like the Royal Belum State Park and Lenggong Valley, which is listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

With the new bridge, it will take visitors from Penang less than an hour to reach the Kuala Kangsar toll plaza. With the shortened travelling time, the state can expect an influx of tourists to other attractions, such as the Kuala Gula bird sanctuary and the Matang mangrove forest.

The state can expect to seize greater benefits from the numerous international flights that land at Penang International Airport.

"So, you see, not only do we benefit in terms of economy, we will also elevate our tourism industry to the next level. I am excited at the prospects and the spillover effects the second Penang bridge will bring to Perak as a whole," said Zahir.

"We may not feel the impact immediately, but in the long run, we will be extremely pleased with the opening of the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge."

 - Koridor Utara | Newsroom