Like other tourist attractions in Penang, Penang Hill has seen a sharp decline in the number of visitors since the closure of international and state borders and since the iteration of MCOs. However, this lull period has been put to good use as Penang Hill Corporation launches Phase Four of the Penang Hill Upper Station Upgrading Project to improve the facilities and provide better comfort to its visitors on the hill.
The RM9.3 million project aims to increase the space of the upper station from 800m2 to 1,422m2 so that it can accommodate up to 700 visitors at a time. The project, which is in line with the fundamental guidelines stipulated in the Penang Hill Special Area Plan (SAP) 2016 and the Penang Hill Special Area Plan (Substitution) 2020, strives for sustainability by following a set of criteria established by the Green Building Index (GBI).
The enormity of the Phase Four project, which also includes the refurbishment of a few state-owned bungalows on the hill as well as maintenance of the slope, could take up to 18 months. In the meantime, Penang Hill Corporation will equip the upper station with smart and green technology and software such as solar panels on the roof, a rain water harvesting system, energy saving fittings as well as a smart queue management system, JustQ 2.0, to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey for visitors.
Work to upgrade the pedestrian walkway beside Penang Hill’s middle station also began in October 23 2020 and was completed about a month after. The main purpose of the project was to enhance the safety aspect of the walkway as well as ensure a smooth traffic flow by widening the walkway and constructing concrete floors on the existing dilapidated walkway.
The work also included the installation of a 20m-long roofing which would act as a rain shelter for users as well as the ‘Anti-Climb Fence’ around the platform area to prevent accidents and intrusion by humans and animals.
Furthermore, catering to the fact that many residents and visitors hike or cycle up the hill from 26 trail entrances, improvements introduced a designated lane for hikers and cyclists.
Since March 2021, Penang Hill Corporation also started encouraging beverage vendors and restaurants operating at its food premises to use biodegradable straws as part of its green practice awareness campaign to preserve and conserve the hill. The edible straws, which are made up of 100% natural ingredients and sourced from Nlytech Biotech Sdn Bhd, will be provided to customers who request for straws at the cost of RM0.20 each. This initiative is part of Penang Hill Corporation’s mission to ramp up awareness and encourage businesses and visitors to adopt environmentally friendly alternatives and reduce single-use plastics including straws, plastic bottles, and plastic wrappings at Penang Hill.