KUANTAN (Dec 9): Construction activities for the 640km East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), which passes through five states, will be ramped up soon in Pahang. Jobs for the subcontracts are expected to be awarded in the first quarter of next year.

According to China Communications Construction (CCC) Sdn Bhd’s (CCC-ECRL) authority and community liaison manager for ECRL section six, Satnam Singh Ajit Singh, the construction works will pick up at section six, which covers the most parts in Pahang.

The section six, which is 140km, has four stations, 21 tunnels and 37 bridges. The total distance for the 21 tunnels is 9.55km and 26.4km for all bridges

In a media briefing by CCC-ECRL, Satnam said it will be a critical period starting as early as the first quarter next year as construction activities pick up.

To meet rising manpower demand, CCC-ECRL’s human resources administration manager for ECRL section 6, Cheah Chee Yuan, told The Edge Financial Daily the company is currently preparing preliminary works for section six, including building access road to the site.

“The actual [construction] work is targeted to commence in the first quarter next year. So, the subcontracts are likely to be awarded by then,” he added.

Cheah expects manpower will double up to 1,400 people, including workers hired by subcontractors, from 700 currently.

Cheah said the ECRL project has embarked on a four-day recruitment roadshow at the East Coast Mall in Kuantan, Pahang. According to him, the roadshow has received some 7,000 online registration from job applicants so far and they are going through the pre-screening process.

“At this moment, our focus is still very much on civil part, so we need civil engineers, especially those who have worked in the construction sector, which had involved in works such as building bridges and highways,” said Cheah.

Apart from the civil engineers, Cheah is looking to hire skilled workers such as site supervisors.

The longest tunnel along the 223km stretch between Dungun in Terengganu and Mentakab in Pahang is currently 3.5% or 100m completed since the construction work has resumed in July this year. Prior to suspension in 2018, about 22m had been completed.

According to tunnel engineer Lei A Li, the tunnel is on track for completion by March in 2022.

“Currently, there are over 100 workers involved in the construction of the tunnel. They are from mainland China, Malaysia and some other countries. We are expecting to increase 30 more workers soon,” Lei said.

However, he noted that the site is currently facing some challenges. The year-end rainy season has resulted in tunnel rocks being unstable, hence increasing the difficulty in excavation work and the risk of a landslide.

Following the relaunch of the ECRL project in July, the engineering procurement construction commissioning contractor, has prioritised the works on its tunnels along the proposed alignment from Dungun to Mentakab in a bid to propel the construction of the RM44 billion rail network.

One of the prime focuses would be the preparatory works for 14.13km tunnels in 23 locations, which are situated within Dungun to Mentakab alignment, where no rail alignment changes were made after the negotiation.

To recap, the cost of the mega rail project ECRL has been slashed to RM44 billion from RM65.5 billion originally when it was revived in April this year. The project is targeted for full completion by end-2026.

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