Lim: Nothing needs to be done regarding land eyeballed for ECRL project

In terms of job creation, it is expected to create 23,000 job opportunities for Malaysians

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

FINANCE Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) has affirmed that the previous East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) plans did not go through far enough for land acquisition.

He said there was nothing to be done about the land plots which were previously eyeballed for the project.

“It was a good thing that nothing was done or confirmed yet, so nothing needed to be done about the land plots,” he told reporters at a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between SME Bank Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company (M) Sdn Bhd yesterday.

ECRL’s initial route to Negri Sembilan has been redesigned, taking into consideration the objection from the Selangor state government against the project cutting through the Klang Gate Quartz Ridge.

Lim said the project spans across five states and Putrajaya Federal Territory, for a distance of 640km.

“The project will generate greater economic activity along the ECRL rail network. In terms of job creation, it is expected to create 23,000 job opportunities for Malaysians. While we have rationalised the project by optimising the cost structure with savings of RM22.78 billion, this is a win-win situation for all including the governments of Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

He said as of now, the progress of the ECRL is nearly 13% complete.

“It is progressing as scheduled and due for completion by December 2026,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MoU signing marked the allocation of RM1 billion for contractors involved in the civil works packages of the ECRL project. Lim said through this MoU, SME Bank will allocate RM1 billion to provide local contractors with the necessary financing facilities they need to complete the project.

“Each qualified local contractor will have access of up to RM50 million through a combination of term financing and revolving credit. Anything above the RM50 million limits will be evaluated on case-by-case basis,” he said.

SME Bank’s group president and CEO Aria Putera Ismail said the bank is proud to be one of the key players that contribute to the success of an impactful project for nation building.

“This initiative is in line with the vision of the National Entrepreneurship Policy 2030 (NEP 2030), which aims to make Malaysia a leading entrepreneurial nation and at the same time, achieve the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 goals,” he said.

MRL CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak said the MoU timely and would accelerate the civil works under the 40% local participation portion of the rail infrastructure.

“The sooner local construction companies come on stream with civil works on the ECRL, the faster the project would contribute to the growth of Malaysia’s construction and building materials sectors, as well as the railway industry,” he said.

Earlier this month, The Malaysian Reserve reported that MRL had completed 11.07% of the ECRL project and is progressing at an expected rate, despite changes to its routes and key infrastructures and being dogged by questionable costs.

The ECRL, which originally had a price tag of RM65.5 billion, was cancelled when the Pakatan Harapan government came into power, only to be resumed on April 12 this year at a lower cost of RM44 billion.

The RM21.5 billion cost reduction has been achieved through a series of revisions in its engineering aspects and value engineering which encompass all aspects of project implementation.