KUALA LUMPUR: MRT Corp Sdn Bhd, developer and owner of the mass rapid transit (MRT) project, said the cost to build the pedestrian walkway tunnel at the KL Sentral MRT station is estimated at RM340 million.
“However, the actual cost will be determined by tender, which is now on hold,” the company said in a statement yesterday.
“MRT Corp is now awaiting the government’s decision on the way forward, and will abide by it.”
The company also reiterated that its proposed 300m pedestrian walkway linking the KL Sentral MRT Station and KL Sentral will benefit the people, “allowing transfers between our stations underneath Jalan Travers in front of Muzium Negara and KL Sentral to be done very conveniently”.
MRT Corp’s statement follows recent allegations by an anonymous blog called “MRT Watch” that MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd has been awarded the tender to build the tunnel walkway which will cost some RM800 million and that public safety will be put at risk due to the construction of the tunnel.
When contacted by The Edge Financial Daily yesterday, MRT Corp chief executive Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid said: “We did the studies and we believe that this is the best way to connect the two stations.”
“The cost is high because it involves engineering work that is not easy, but we believe it is justified by the convenience it will provide to the public”.
According to Azhar, at least five prominent local construction players are bidding for the proposed tunnel project.
In the statement, MRT Corp said the total length of the walkway tunnel will be 300m, and not 100m as alleged by MRT Watch, and that it will be fully air-conditioned.
“The walkway is part of the paid area, which means commuters will be able to change from one rail system to another without the need to walk through fare gates or buy new tickets,” it said.
MRT Corp also noted that Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) had submitted a proposal to the government on an alternative to MRT Corp’s tunnel, which is estimated to cost only RM50 million. This has resulted in the open tender for the proposed walkway being put on hold until the government decides which design to implement.
“While their proposal is estimated to cost only RM50 million, MRT Corp believes any walkway tunnel linking the two points must be one that is most convenient for commuters.
“We also assume that some passengers will be carrying travel bags as KL Sentral is the rail hub between the city and KLIA and the future klia2. The needs of these passengers must be considered as well,” it added.
It is not known what MRCB’s design entails, but it is unlikely to involve an underground tunnel, said Azhar.
“I don’t think you can build a tunnel for RM50 million. The engineering works are very complex since the tunnel will pass under other buildings. KL Sentral is built with a platform design, and we will have to do underpinning for about six to seven columns”.
“We want to build world-class facilities, and this means building the walkway underground. Just look at other transportation hubs around the world. You can go above ground, but with our kind of weather, the heat and rain can be a problem,” said Azhar.
On its part, MRT Corp is proposing a two-level walkway, with escalators and lifts providing commuting convenience between the two levels.
“For the rest of the walkway tunnel, commuter convenience is offered through the use of travellators. We estimate the average walking time to connect between the two ends to be eight minutes”.
“Ultimately, the decision is not MRT Corp’s but the government’s. They have brought in independent advisors to advise them and hopefully they will choose the best option for the public,” said Azhar.
It was reported that the existing 1.173km pedestrian bridge linking Kuala Lumpur City Centre and Bukit Bintang, which includes a 562m long and 5m wide elevated walkway, had cost RM100 million to build.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 20, 2014.
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