East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) details are out today (15th April 2019), with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad releasing the details of the ECRL deal that was renegotiated by Tun Daim Zainuddin.
Last week, Tun Daim was reported to have good news that the ECRL has had the price slashed by 32.8% of the original cost from Rm 65.5 billion to Rm 44 billion, while announcing more details will be released today by the Prime Minister.
Tun Daim had also announced there is changes in the original alignment as well the shortening of the original length by about 40km from 688km to 648km.
The Prime Minister explained that the ECRL under the original alignment would pass through Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang before entering Selangor through Gombak then to Serendah and ending at Port Klang.
The alignment will now skip Bentong and Gombak, turning south at Mentakab to Kuala Klawan in Negeri Sembilan before it enters Selangor through Bangi/Kajang then to Putrajaya Sentral and ending at Port Klang.
Dr. Mahathir explains that the alignment will leverage on existing rail links and lines while also prioritising cultural, heritage and environmental factors by avoiding the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak Selangor.
“The new alignment will leverage the existing KLIA Express Rail Link (ERL), as well as the future MRT2 Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya line, with an interchange in Putrajaya Sentral.
“This will improve passenger connectivity to other parts of the peninsula’s west coast, as well as provide a direct link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport,” he was reported by MalaysiaKini to have said during the press conference today.
It was considered a significant improvement on the ECRL as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed rail, which construction will begin again in 2020 is expected to pass through the Putrajaya/Bangi area, as compared to the ECRL going through Gombak which has only one interchange with an LRT line.
The Prime Minister also noted that the new ECRL will run through five states and Putrajaya, compared to the previous deal involving four states only.
“This allows more states to enjoy the economic benefits of the improved deal.
“The southern alignment will provide a direct land link from Kuantan Port to Port Klang, serving as a land bridge between the two ports.
“The new alignment also prioritises cultural, heritage and environmental factors by avoiding the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Gombak, which is the longest pure quartz dyke in the world,” Dr. Mahathir was reported saying by The Star.
The new completion date for the ECRL is currently 31st December 2026, a two-year delay from the original date of 30th June 2024.
In addition, China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) was also reported to have agreed to refund part of the Rm3.1 billion advance payment for ECRL Phase 2, Double Tracking and Northern Extension under the original contract.
“RM500 million will be refunded within a week from April 12, 2019 and a further RM500 million within a month from this date for a total of RM1 billion,” Dr. Mahathir announced, while adding the balance would be payed within three months after deductions for verified claims on abortive works, suspension and cancellation of the northern extension.
On question that the renegotiation included locating fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or commonly known as Jho Low, Dr. Mahathir had said no.
“It had nothing to do with Mr Jho Low.
“But, of course we will seek the help of the Chinese government if he is at all in China.”
The renegotiations, however, did have relation to palm oil exports to China, even though there were no direct connections to the project.
“It is not directly related but we are taking advantage of the signing of the agreement to work out purchase of palm oil from China. That will happen,” he according to The Star said.
Meanwhile a Forbes report had said that Malaysia’s success at renegotiating the ECRL project with China held significant meaning to Malaysia escaping the ‘debt trap’ of China.
By Terrance Tan
15th April 2019 20:15