Teng says the original proposed routing of the ECRL would benefit land speculators more than it would the state
by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA
SELANGOR is asking the federal government to reconsider its decision to abandon changes that were made in 2019 to the proposed route of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) mega project.
Selangor executive councillor for investment, industry, commerce and small and medium enterprises Datuk Teng Chang Khim said the federal government’s decision to revert to the original proposed route of the trans-state railway would disrupt development plans for parts of the state. Teng stressed that the original proposed routing of the ECRL would benefit land speculators more than it would the state.
The previous government had re-assessed the ECRL project in 2019 and decided on a new route that would cut cost, avoid disruption to a water catchment area, as well as offer benefits to more people. However, the current government that was installed in March this year has since decided to revert to the original proposed route.
Teng said the state had in 2019 convinced Putrajaya to review Section C of the alignment, which includes the stretch from Mentakab to Port Klang, so that it would not pass through one of the main water catchment areas of the state in Gombak.
“We had three engagements that resulted in the diversion of the routes to the south in Negri Sembilan, with more stations to be built that would spur the economy on a greater scale.
“However, the new government has changed their mind, which I think will only profit land investors and parcel owners in Bentong andnot for the benefit of the people of Selangor and Malaysia as a whole,” Teng told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
He said if Putrajaya pursues the plan to reroute the ECRL through Bentong, Pahang, and Gombak, Selangor, it would cause unnecessary friction between the state and federal governments. In Malaysia, land development is governed by individual states.
“We hope both parties can reach a consensus and find an amicable solution as we also do not want to cause any distress and eventually risk the project be cancelled.
“We think the reversal of this development will only be profitable for those landowners in Bentong, instead of benefitting the country.”
Teng said the state government is still trying to convince the federal government to come out with a more rational decision and accept Selangor’s proposal.
He said the Sultan of Selangor has also indicated that he agrees with the Selangor state government that the project should take a southern approach through Negri Sembilan.
He said several rounds of talks are expected between Selangor and the federal administration before any final decision is made.
Teng said the southern alignment would be more viable economically and environmentally as more stations can be built with less interruption to Selangor’s ecosystems.
He said if the alignment includes Negri Sembilan, the project will also pass through Cyberjaya, an area that has been designated by the state government as the location of a new convention centre.
“Additionally, there would be stations for commuters in Bandar Rimbayu and Jenjarom, and one cargo station in Pulau Carey before it goes into West Port in Klang.
“This also means that Pulau Carey would also become a logistics hub, especially when the federal government also has plans to expand the West Port to the Pulau Carey area. With the passenger and cargo stations, it would greatly benefit Selangor people,” Teng told TMR.
Under the Pakatan Harapan administration, the mega project’s cost was reduced by RM21.5 billion from the original of RM65.5 billion. The reduction is attributed to the review of the project’s engineering aspects and Section C rerouted to pass through Negri Sembilan and Putrajaya at the south of Selangor.
The realignment also saw the cancellation of Bentong, Gombak Utara, the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak, Telaga Papan, Jelawat, Pengkalan Kubor and Wakaf Bharu stations. New stations were introduced including Bangi/Kajang, Putrajaya Sentral, Port Klang and other stations in Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
Earlier this month, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong told the Parliament in a written response that a review of Section C is underway.
Under the initial plan for the ECRL, Wee said the alignment took into account the construction of a metre-gauge rail system for Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) and a standard gauge for the ECRL to be built from Serendah to Port Klang.
He said the Serendah station was identified as a suitable passenger and cargo interchange between the ECRL and KTMB, which would also allow for the integration of railway networks passing through the states in the east coast and north of Peninsular Malaysia.