ECRL progress on the right track, says MRL

The project involves only 30% or about 1,000 Chinese workers from the republic

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE construction progress of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is on the right track and not impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) CEO Datuk Seri Darwis Abdul Razak said.

Darwis said so far the construction is ongoing as usual and the company has also not received any request from its financier, Export- Import Bank of China, to delay the payment of funds for the project.

The project, Darwis said, involves only 30% or about 1,000 Chinese workers from the republic.

“About 200 of them went back to their hometown for Chinese New Year and they have already returned to work. Only 13 are from Wuhan and they are not allowed to leave the city,” Darwis told the press after witnessing the signing of tripartite agreement between MRL, China Communication Construction (CCC) (ECRL) Sdn Bhd and Terengganu Inc.

He was responding to a query on whether the ECRL progress could be impacted as studies and reports had stated that Chinese global network may face disruption due to Covid-19.

Global data analytics Dun & Bradstreet found the outbreak and subsequent shutdown of huge swathes of China could impact more than five million businesses worldwide.

Meanwhile, CCC (ECRL) MD Bai Yinzhan said all of the 13 Chinese staff in Wuhan are working from home. He believes the outbreak will end soon.

The RM44 billion ECRL mega project with 640km of rail network were relaunched in April 12 last year.

Both MRL and the Chinese parent company, China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) signed a supplementary agreement which allowed the ECRL project’s resumption.

The new ECRL line is 40km shorter than the previous proposed rail network with more than RM20 billion cost reduction.

The project is now 15% completed, with the new operating deadline slated in January 2027.

Earlier, Terengganu Inc inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strategically cooperate with MRL and CCC (ECRL) for the mega project.

At about 250km rail length from Jerteh to Chukai, the RM15 billion estimated project is expected to create more than 20,000 job for the locals.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar (picture) who was present during the ceremony said the tripartite agreement will fully consolidate and capitalise strength of all parties to ensure the project meets the targeted timeline and specifications.

“This could be the game changer to the state’s economic growth which also links to the cities in the west coast area,” he said.

The MoU also involves the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to initiate the Economic Accelerator Projects to identify new industrial and logistics centres with new investment by CCCC.

A working committee will also be formed to monitor the ECRL development in the state, which will also involve contractors and components suppliers from Terengganu.