KOTA BARU, May 12 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said there must be thorough planning done to ensure the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) Project is a catalyst for change in the East Coast region, especially in Kelantan.

“This is because among the major issues during our discussions with investors, including those from China, is the lack of attention to Terengganu (East Coast), and especially Kelantan on the issue of ports, even though there is no port (when the ECRL Project is completed) to facilitate, for example, the transportation of goods in Kelantan, whether agricultural or industrial.

“That is why there should be more aggressive and immediate action to attract investors by guaranteeing new incentives and faster approval process,” he said.

Anwar said this in his speech at the construction launching ceremony of the first ECRL station in Tunjong, here today.

Also present were Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali and Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Darwish Abdul Razak.

The Kota Baru ECRL station is built on an area spanning some 20 hectares (50.41 acres) in Bandar Baru Tunjong with its building design based on the concept of the ‘Rumah Meleh Melayu Kelantan’, the ‘Ketam Guri’ flower and the state’s cultural characteristics.

Anwar said the ECRL project has seen the involvement of more than 2,100 local companies consisting of contractors, consultants and suppliers since 2017 until the first quarter of this year.

“So the assumption that the ECRL Project is completely monopolised by China is not entirely true.

“I mentioned earlier that in our negotiations with China and companies of the emphasis that opportunities for all new projects and civil work, contracts, consultancy and others should be given to local companies,” he said.

The ECRL project is expected to be completed by the end of 2026 and to begin operations in January 2027. — Bernama