KUANTAN, Dec 11 — The contract value of local companies’ involvement in the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has reached RM12.99 billion, surpassing the set target of RM10.8 billion, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

As for the involvement of Bumiputera companies, Loke said that a total of RM2.59 billion, or 74 per cent of the target of RM3.5 billion, for ECRL civil works had been given to Bumiputera contractors, consultants and suppliers.

Loke said that Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), as the project owner, and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), which is the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contractor of ECRL, will gather energy to ensure that the involvement of Bumiputera companies continues to increase.

“Among the initiatives being taken is a collaboration with the state government to screen Bumiputera contractor companies from the G1 and G2 categories, further opening up opportunities for them to jointly develop the ECRL project within a suitable scope of work.

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“MRL and CCCC are in the process of short-listing the companies for that purpose,” he said while speaking at the launching ceremony at the installation of the first ECRL track at the Section 10 ECRL Station Site in Gebeng here today

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, accompanied by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, officiated the ceremony

Also present were the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Ouyang Yujin; MRL chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali; CCCC chairman Wang Tongzhou and the Menteris Besar from the three east coast states involved in the project.

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Loke added that as many as 2,800 local companies, consisting of contractors, consultants and suppliers, have been involved in the implementation of ECRL, starting from 2017 until October this year.

The 665 kilometres railway line, across Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor, was inaugurated on Aug 9, 2017, and is scheduled to operate in 2027, involving passenger trains at a speed of 160km/h and freight trains at a speed of 80km/h.

Loke said that the Ministry of Transport also recommended that a 50:50 joint venture company, between MRL and CCCC, to successfully operate the ECRL, could be established in 2024, which demonstrated both parties’ confidence in the prospect of ECRL’s operating profit, as well as guaranteeing the quality and sustainability of the service.

The joint venture, according to Loke, will also provide technical assistance and intensify the transfer of railway technology, as well as in the aspects of operation and maintenance of the ECRL for the long term. — Bernama