Najib: MRT a ‘success story’, built at reasonable cost

The first MRT line that became fully operational last Monday was constructed at a cost of RM21 billion, below the budget of RM23 billion. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
The first MRT line that became fully operational last Monday was constructed at a cost of RM21 billion, below the budget of RM23 billion. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — The on-time completion of Malaysia’s first MRT line is a “success story”, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who also described the project’s related costs as reasonable.

Najib was responding to Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming’s request for additional information on the supplementary payments to the project delivery partners for the MRT line, land acquisition costs and costs for the MRT train sets or rolling stock.

“All costs that are mentioned by the MP are costs that were reasonably paid, that means according to methods that are transparent and there is nothing that can be disputed,” the Pekan MP said in Parliament, adding he could have MRT Corp publicly release the additional information if necessary.

Earlier in his reply to oral questions on the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line, Najib highlighted the savings of RM2 billion in the construction of the train line when saying the MRT line was a “success story” of a non-concession project directly funded by the government.

The first MRT line that became fully operational last Monday was constructed at a cost of RM21 billion, below the budget of RM23 billion.

Najib also told federal lawmakers there were more advantages to directly funding infrastructure projects versus using concessionaires, such as enabling Putrajaya to better monitor projects and apply good structures for governance, payments and transparent tender systems.

Najib pointed out that the MRT project had an executive committee that was chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Government and included multiple government agencies, adding that the quick resolution of project obstacles through this model would be used in other government projects to ensure efficiency and transparency with “minimal bureaucracy”.

The presence of representatives from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and National Audit Department in the same executive committee also helped ensure integrity and transparency in the MRT project’s implementation, he said.

Najib listed several infrastructure improvements following the MRT project, including expansion of main roads in Kajang such as Jalan Cheras and Jalan Reko to have four lanes instead of two lanes, the construction of feeder bus stops and taxi stands, and new buildings for the KTM railway at the shared MRT stations of Sungai Buloh and Kajang.

“Throughout the process of ensuring that this MRT project is completed according to schedule and succeeds, MRT Corp has never neglected the inconveniences and discomfort faced by any affected parties throughout the project’s alignment.

“MRT Corp always takes full responsibility on any complaints and proven damages caused by the construction of this MRT project,” he added.

He also said any criticism that the MRT project was a waste of funds was merely a “political opinion”, asserting that the project was in reality greatly beneficial to Malaysians.

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