KUALA LUMPUR (April 12): The value of the road projects which Malaysian firms are bidding for in India’s Rajasthan state is US$1.6 billion (RM7.09 billion) and the outcome is expected to be known by May, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

Four Malaysian companies are vying for six packages covering a total of over 3,000km of roads, Fadillah said, without disclosing the names of the companies.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was in Rajasthan during an official visit to India earlier this month, spoke about “several Malaysian road builders” bidding for state road projects in the northern Indian state but did not provide details.

Fadillah said the Malaysian firms are bidding for the road projects through the Swiss challenge method — a process whereby a public authority receiving an unsolicited bid for a project publishes details of the bid and invites third parties to match or exceed it.

“If there are no other people with more favourable proposals that can compete with the proposals we have submitted, we will have the project,” the minister told reporters on the sidelines of the Eighth Malaysian Construction Summit 2017 yesterday.

At a press conference of the same event, Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) chief executive Datuk Ahmad ‘Asri Abdul Hamid said the Malaysian construction industry is expected to grow by 8% in volume this year to RM170 billion, underpinned by ongoing mega infrastructure projects.

Last year, the construction sector grew by 7.4% to RM166.4 billion, up 8.2% from RM140 billion in 2015.

Ahmad ‘Asri said that in terms of construction numbers, there were 6,305 projects in 2016 compared with 7,455 in 2015.

Of the 2016 projects, 29.1% worth RM48.5 million were from the public sector, while 70.9% or RM117.9 billion came from the private sector.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s refinery and petrochemical integrated development project in Pengerang, Johor, the mass rapid transit Line 2 in the Klang Valley, and the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah and Sarawak are among the major infrastructure projects.

Ahmad ‘Asri said such projects will contribute strongly to the industry’s growth and to the increase in the country’s gross domestic product this year.

“When you have construction activity booming, it will drive the manufacturing and construction sectors, which in turn will drive the economy.

“I think the local economy is currently doing very well and is improving. So, with lots of construction in the pipeline surely it will also contribute to the increase in GDP (gross domestic product) this year,” he added.

In his opening remarks at the summit, Master Builders Association Malaysia president Foo Chek Lee said construction players are now more concerned about increasing their quality, safety and professionalism.

“Although there are many quality and safety enhancers and technologies, Malaysia is still lagging behind in fully utilising these methods.

“This is especially with the ongoing mega projects. It is about time for us to enhance our industry by adopting those technologies despite the high cost of initial implementation,” said Foo.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 12, 2017.

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