MRT3 being reviewed, says Loke

As the 3rd line covers mostly the urban areas, more than 3 quarters of it would be tunnels, which cost almost RM50 billion, says the minister

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Circle Line project, which is also known as Line 3 (MRT3), has not been cancelled, but postponed pending a review.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the project is deferred to accommodate an evaluation by the government.

“We are reviewing it to bring down costs. As the third line covers mostly the urban areas, more than three quarters of it would be tunnels, which cost almost RM50 billion,” he said.

Loke was responding to MP Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) who asked the government to state the implications should the project be scrapped.

Loke said the government needs to review the project’s feasibility from various aspects including mechanicals, land and expertise, as well as appointments of the contractors.

He said the review would also allow an opportunity to avoid over-spending.

Loke said the decision to defer the infrastructure project was made by the Cabinet, after looking at the country’s financial position.

“The Cabinet will decide when it will be resumed, but for now, the government wants to cut spending. When the (nation’s) financial state gets better, the MRT project will definitely be prioritised again,” he said.

Loke acknowledged the potential benefits of the MRT3 project, but said the financial burden needs to be further evaluated.

He said at the same time, the government is also looking to encourage more users to use the public trans- port that is currently available because the MRT is underused.
“We also want to encourage more of the public to use the existing public transport facilities, as the MRT has been seeing an average of just around 146,842 daily commuters, about one-third of its 450,000 capacity,” he said.

In keeping up with Pakatan Harapan’s general election pledge to provide unlimited access to public trans- port for RM100 a month, Loke said the scheme will be introduced early next year.

Last month, it was announced that this monthly pass for public transportation will need to be reviewed before it can be implemented.

It was reported that the Transport Ministry had to look into the implementation as the move would impact the government’s financial position.

“The monthly pass is to encourage more people to use the MRT and buses, which are already available,” he said.

Meanwhile, on ride-hailing services for motorcycles, Loke said he personally does not agree with the concept, due to the high rate of motorcycle accidents, but the government will also review this option.

“Since it is not easy for us to approve the e-hailing for cars, we will have to study further the service for bikes. For now, we don’t have plans for motorcycle ride-hailing.”