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PUTRAJAYA, April 6 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today said he is confident that all state leaders will cooperate with the federal government for the construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), even after a change to the route alignment.
Wee said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government made the route realignment in the best interest of the country.
“I have full confidence that the mentri besar and the state authorities will give us their fullest cooperation.
“We do it in the best interest of our country and this is the time for us to save money,” he told reporters today after an event at the Health Ministry.
He added that any delay to the project will cost the federal government RM1.25 million a day.
“If we delay it now, the entire [project] will not be fully operational and you still have to service loans.
“This will impact us more adversely,” he said.
Wee said his ministry will continue to engage all state authorities, including those not led by PN parties like Selangor, which is under Pakatan Harapan (PH) control.
“This is an ongoing process and as I have said, we cannot wait as we have been waiting for the past nine months,” he said.
Wee was responding to Selangor state executive councillor Datuk Teng Chang Khim who yesterday accused the federal government of being a “big bully” by reverting to the old, Barisan Nasional era ECRL route realignment, without the state’s input.
Defending the PN federal government, Wee insisted his ministry officials had tried their best to talk to all state governments, especially Selangor.
“I must put it on record that there were 37 consultation meetings with 17 agencies in Selangor.
“That shows our commitment. Whatever issues of concern, environmental issues and social impact issues, were all taken care of by the Ministry of Transport.
“So we’ve done our best, but beyond environmental issues, beyond social impact issues, then it is a political decision,” he said.
The realignment works for ECRL 3.0 involves a distance of 201km for Section C, which includes a spur line of 32.4km, compared to the 185.5km for the same area under the ECRL 2.0, which included a spur line of 41.5km.
With the changes, Wee said that the alignment from Kota Baru to Port Klang will not have a total distance of 665km.
The Northern Alignment will comprise a total of seven stations in the long run, with five to be built in the initial stage, namely: Temerloh, Bentong, ITT Gombak, Serendah and Jalan Kastam in Port Klang.
The ambitious project was brought into Malaysia by the then BN government then led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The project consists of three sections. Section A runs from Kota Baru in Kelantan to Dungun in Terengganu. Section B, from Dungun to Mentakab in Pahang and Section C, from Mentakab to Port Klang in Selangor.
China Communications Construction Company Ltd is the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contractor for the project.
The Chinese interest in the ECRL came from it being part of the republic’s mega Belt and Road Initiative, to push for global dominance.
After PH took over Putrajaya in the 14th general election, it revised the agreement citing the project’s exorbitant cost and the country’s staggering debt.
The renegotiation with China resulted in a RM21.5 cost billion reduction, and the PH government also slashed the number of stations from 24 to 20.