Najib urges China to complete East Coast Rail Link before 2024

Lester Mason
August 10, 2017

"The viability of the ECRL is undisputed as it is estimated that 5.4 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo will use the ECRL service annually by 2030 as the primary transport between the east and west coast", Datuk Seri Najib said at the event in Kuantan, capital of his home state Pahang.

China has been upset with Singapore in recent months because of what China has viewed as undue interference by the city-state over the South China Sea dispute and Singapore's close defence ties with the United States and self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a renegade province.

The offer was to be made by a delegation of Chinese officials who visited Malaysia on Wednesday for the launch of a $13 billion rail project being built by China, news portal The Malaysian Insight reported, quoting an unidentified source.

Mr Najib said the 668km line would boost the eastern region - which lags behind the rest of the country - raising economic growth by 1.5 per cent a year.

Najib noted that the ECRL, which would become the nation's longest rail project with a total of 688 kilometres of rail link, costing RM55 billion to be built by the CCCC, one of the leading transportation infrastructure groups and named as the third top worldwide contractor in the world with MRL tasked as the project owner.

"Singapore will still be very important for the short to medium term".

The ECRL is the first artery railway built in the east coast, which has been connected to the west coast only "via a network of roads and highways, and small rail lines that were woefully inadequate".

"The federal leadership is also grateful to the state governments of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor for their full cooperation and support to this project, particularly in matters of land acquisition which is pertinent to the construction of the new rail link".

"We have together with our Chinese counterpart agreed that Malaysian contractors will be involved in at least 30% of this high impact project", Najib said. Cost: RM55 billion (S$17.5 billion).

The Export-Import Bank of China financed 85 percent of the railway with soft loans, while the Malaysian government provided the remaining 15 percent via issuing bonds, according to Najib. It is to be completed by 2024.

He said the ECRL will see a mindset change for Malaysians when it cuts travel time from Gombak to Kota Baru to less than four hours compared to the average seven hours by road or 12 hours or more during festive seasons.

A statement signed by coalition members noted the rail link will not be owned by the national rail company but by a new firm wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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