SHAH ALAM (April 16): The people should welcome and give their full support to the government’s efforts to save RM21.5 billion on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project.
The prime minister’s political secretary Abu Bakar Yahya said the savings are proof that the federal government, under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is responsible and practised transparency.
“Under the previous administration, it would have cost RM65.5 billion to build the ECRL. But with the signing of the supplementary agreement between CCCC (China Communications Construction Co Ltd) and Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd on April 12, the cost was reduced to RM44 billion, which is 32.8% less than the original cost, with the alignment length covering 640km,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Abu Bakar, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Supreme Council member, said the project will have spillover benefits for local industries as the government targets a 40% involvement of local contractors in the project, which is expected to be completed in December 2026.
Meanwhile, in Kuala Terengganu, Menteri Besar Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar wrote on his Facebook page that the people of Terengganu not only welcomed Dr Mahathir’s announcement but he (Ahmad Samsuri) is confident it will spur economic growth and positively impact the population.
The ECRL involves a new alignment from Kota Baru-Mentakab-Jelebu-Kuala Kelawang-Bangi/Kajang-Putrajaya and finally Port Klang.
Meanwhile, state Tourism, Culture and Information Technology Committee chairman Ariffin Deraman said the latest report will have a direct and positive impact on the tourism sector in Terengganu.
He expects the total number of visitors to the state to rise to above 5% once the ECRL is completed as they will have another alternative other than using the East Coast Expressway and air route.
“The ECRL is expected to reduce by more than half the travelling time and cost for tourists from the west coast to the east coast,” he said when contacted by Bernama yesterday, adding that the tourist arrival recorded last year was about 4.8 million people.
Pengkalan Berangan State Assemblyman Sulaiman Sulong said that since the ECRL would pass through his area, it will give traders there a chance to open small kiosks selling various items at the stations and raise their economic standard.
Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Bangi student Nurul Syazwani Mohd Noor said that as a traveller, the construction of the ECRL should be viewed as a new alternative to return to her hometown during an emergency.
“I’m confident that the industries managed by local entrepreneurs in the east coast will be more robust while traditional Terengganu products, like exclusive batik and songket, will be an attraction with the expected tourist influx,” she said.