MRT Corp to engage landowners to cut private land buy cost for Line 2

PETALING JAYA (April 30): Minister of Finance Inc’s wholly-owned Mass Rapid Transport Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) aims to cut the cost of private land acquisitions for the RM23 billion Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya MRT project (Line 2) through mutual agreements with landowners, according to a report in The Edge Financial Daily today.

“We will try to engage with the landowners to seek mutual agreements where our tunnels will run below ground without us having to acquire their property. Land acquisitions are very expensive and we want to minimise the cost,” project director Amiruddin Maaris said after a media briefing on Line 2’s Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) yesterday.

He said MRT Corp managed to save RM1.6 billion from the RM3 billion that was initially set aside for the acquisition of 23 properties along the 51km stretch in the ongoing MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang (Line 1) project, and aims to repeat its cost-saving feat for Line 2.

Line 2’s DEIA report is now on exhibition until May 19 in 27 locations while the railways scheme public display featuring the alignment will take place between May 15 and Aug 17.

Amiruddin added that MRT Corp has not factored in the actual acquisition cost for about 23% of Line 2’s 52.2km stretch (or 521 private properties along the line) into the project’s costing because the Valuation and Property Services Department has yet to determine the quantum of land rates.

He added that the full cost of the project can only be confirmed once the detailed design and stations are finalised.

“Underground work can cost five times more than elevated portions [but] coupled with the opportunity to have mutual agreements… the gap can only be established with the finalisation of the alignment,” he said.

Amiruddin said the new alignment option for Line 2, which has been submitted to the Department of Environment (DoE) for approval, is to include 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)’s Bandar Malaysia land and to link up the system with the future Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail terminal.

Bandar Malaysia is 1MDB’s yet-to-be-developed property project, which the proposed Line 2 is to pass through.

The proposed alignment also bypasses populated zones such as Cheras and Pandan. MRT Corp had previously said it would consider including them in the Line 3 route.

Yesterday, MRT Corp strategic communications and public relations director Mahmood Abdul Razak clarified that the under the mutual agreement, landowners waive their right to claim the land below a certain level underground.

He added that according to land titles, landowners possess the rights to the space below ground which could extend to the earth’s core. But with the agreement, the owners waive that right.

“We expect to obtain approval from DoE for our DEIA in 3Q2015 and anticipate the federal government’s approval for the alignment in 4Q2015,” Amiruddin said.

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