ECRL construction to go on without disruption

Loke says the pre-qualification process is done and the bidding part is ongoing for 40% of the component

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by BERNAMA

THE tender process for the 640km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project would continue concurrently with its construction, as some of the packages within the phases are expected to be awarded in intervals.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the process, however, is not expected to disrupt or change the project’s completion date.

He said some pre-qualification process has been done and the bidding part is ongoing for 40% of the component.

“Some of the projects will be awarded from time to time. It will not be all at one go. So it will be along the construction stages, which depends on the timeline.

“But as far as we are concerned, the timeline for the completion of the whole project is 2026 and there is no change for that,” he said at the project relaunch in Dungun, Terengganu, yesterday.

He said the realignment made to the project came with the processes that needed to be followed as a result of all the relevant impact assessment reports.

“We have gotten the Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Social Impact Assessment Report for Section B.

“For the new alignment, there is a process to be followed. So, we will follow the due process and (I’m) confident that it will be according to the schedule.

“The process itself will take a few months, but all processes will probably be completed by next month,” he said.

With the new alignment, Loke said some of the existing tunnels are accordingly adjusted to the changes while some of tunnels’ location are yet to be finalised.

“Section A is from Kota Baru to Dungun. Section B is from Dungun to Mentakab. And Section C is from Mentakab to Port Klang.

“What we are relaunching, is basically Section B — Dungun to Mentakab — which should not see any major change. So we’re basically using the old alignment from Dungun to Mentakab,” he said.

He added that there will be some alignment changes for Section A, while major changes will occur in Section C where some of the alignments and tunnels will only be finalised after further planning and verification.

In addition, Loke said while the project’s cost has also been renegotiated, the financing method will remain the same.

“The financing way is basically still the same. It’s just that we re-negotiated the entire cost of the project, and reduced it by RM21.5 billion to RM44 billion.

“The financing model is still the same, and Exim Bank (Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd) will be financing the project,” he said.

He added that the changes include the setting up of a new operating company, or OpCo, between Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) once the project is completed.

“The OpCo will be a 50-50 joint venture to operate train services during the entire period of the term loan,” he said.

MRL CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak said the partnership will reduce financing costs to RM24 billion altogether.

“So, we save RM12.6 billion and the total repayment for Exim Bank and bond programme will be reduced from RM36 billion to RM24 billion,” he said.

As for the project’s progress, Darwis said the whole alignment is about 10.18% done.

“We used to have some percentage of completion from Kota Baru to Dungun, and Mentakab to Gombak earlier on.

“Because of the realignment, we have to change from Section A to Section C, and that is why at the moment the current percentage completion is about 10.18%. This is the revised percentage completion,” he said.

He also added that local contractors who were in the earlier package are retained.

“The local contractors that have been appointed earlier on are still onboard,” he said.

According to the study from Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Research, the construction of the ECRL is expected to contribute at least 2.7% to Malaysia’s GDP growth in the coming years.

Subsequently, machinery and transport equipment that are necessary to the project will boost the imported commodities of the country by 3.3% and consumption of fixed capital will increase by 2.1%.

Also present at the relaunch were members of MRL board of directors Ahmad Suhaimi Endut and Datuk Dr Yusuf Ismail, Transport Ministry secretary general Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib, Negri Sembilan Chief Minister (CM) Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun, Terengganu CM Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, Pahang state basic amenities, public delivery system and innovations committee chairman Datuk Seri Norol Azali Sulaiman and the representative of the Kelantan CM and deputy chairman of the state road safety council Abdul Rahman Yunus.