KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Construction on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) mega project will continue next year as the federal government already allocated funds for it, the Transport Ministry confirmed today.
Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah said the government has set aside funds for the works in 2021, adding that progress was also ahead of schedule.
“This project will be continued because the construction has already started, and certainly there are allocations to continue this project, especially Sections A and B that have already started,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to Hulu Selangor MP June Leow’s supplementary question, in which she said she did not see a specific development expenditure allocation for the ECRL and asked if it would or should continue in 2021 when Malaysia would still be fighting Covid-19.
Earlier, Leow asked in an oral question for progress updates of the ECRL project and the decision over the route to be taken for this railway.
In response, Hasbi said the Transport Ministry was “very committed” to ensuring the ECRL project is completed on time and to be enjoyed by the public as soon as possible.
“This capability is proven when up to October 31 this year, the construction of the whole project had achieved an actual progress of 19.09 per cent, compared to 18.3 per cent, which means it is ahead of schedule by 0.79 per cent,” he said.
As for the route for Section A of the ECRL project, namely from Kota Baru to Dungun, Hasbi said the route approved in May this year covered the six stations of Kota Baru, Pasir Puteh, Jerteh, Bandar Permaisuri, Kuala Terengganu and Dungun.
“This approval is in line with the programme for site preparation works that have been carried out starting from mid-2020. At this time, the progress in physical works have reached 0.16 per cent ahead of schedule,” he said.
He said Section B of the ECRL from Dungun to Temerloh has also physical work resuming from July 2019, with the progress of works in this section reaching 5.93 per cent as compared to the schedule of 4.07 per cent, which translates to 1.86 per cent of works being ahead of schedule.
These include earth works, the building of tunnels in places such as Dungun and Kuantan.
“Work is expected to start in 101 locations throughout the Section A and Section B towards the end of 2020,” he added.
As for Section C which is from Temerloh to Port Klang, Hasbi said the federal government is currently studying the best route to be taken to ensure the maximum economic impact to the public, adding that the government will announce it once the studies have been completed.
He also said it would be important to ensure the ECRL is connected strategically to the national rail logistics network, stating that this can be achieved without reducing the services to passengers while also making the ECRL a catalyst for the economy and jobs in areas along the route.
As for the call to have local contractors involved in the ECRL project, Hasbi said the existing contract already requires the project’s contractor China Communications Construction to seek to subcontract works in the project to local contractors.