KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) have denied appointing agents to offer direct contracts to Malaysians for the construction of the East-Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

These agents are purportedly offering Class G3-G6 contractors the opportunity to participate in civil work contracts for the ECRL project by registering with them as subcontractors.

The agents claim to provide an opportunity for local contractors to participate in the project as subcontractors through direct awards to certain companies.

“No agents or lobbyists have been appointed to facilitate the pre-qualification of local contractors as potential tenderers of the ECRL civil work packages to facilitate the 40 per cent local participation in the ECRL civil works as agreed in the ECRL Supplementary Agreement (SA) of Engineering, Procurement, Construction & Commissioning (EPCC) contracts signed on April 12, 2019,” both agencies said in a joint statement today.

“No contracts for the ECRL civil works will be awarded on a direct tender basis. Claims by any companies that they have been promised contracts as the main contractors of the ECRL project via direct award are absolutely and categorically untrue.”

The initially suspended ECRL project is now back on track after months of negotiations, as led by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin. The project was shelved after Pakatan Harapan (PH) ousted Barisan Nasional (BN) in the general election last year, due to its egregious cost.

The construction cost for Phase 1 and 2 of the ECRL has now been now reduced to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion from its original cost of RM65.5 billion.

The government then said it will ensure that the renegotiated ECRL will be developed with 40 per cent local participation.

“The MRL and CCCC are currently running its Pre-Qualification (pre-Q) exercise aimed at allowing all contractors with a CIDB (Construction Industry Development Board) Grade G3 to Grade G7 licence and a minimum 2-star rating to register for a pre-qualification exercise to shortlist local contractors as potential tenderers for the ECRL civil works.

“Additionally, CCCC had run advertisements in all leading local dailies to publicise the Pre-Q exercise on May 13 and May 14. Hence, all genuine and qualified local construction companies and contractors interested to be shortlisted as potential tenderers on the ECRL civil work packages are encouraged to participate in the Pre-Q exercise and submit their applications directly at the CCCC counters at the Sime Darby Convention Centre on May 29 and 30, 2019,” the statement read.

MRL and CCCC urged contractors to ignore any messages claiming they are recipients of direct tenders for the ECRL as well as “lobbyists” claiming that they can assist contractors to gain “favoured” status for ECRL projects.

“Any local contractors who receive such offers and claims, can report to MRL or CCCC.

“Legal measures would also be considered if deemed necessary to protect our rights,” they said.

The ECRL will connect five states and one federal territory, namely Kelantan, Pahang, Terengganu, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Putrajaya.

The revised alignment will see a direct link from the Kuantan Port to Port Klang, and will serve as a Iand bridge connecting them.

New alignment will avoid the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Selangor which is being established as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage site.