Walking on the edge

Friday, 28 July 2017

Unlocking the value of our east coast

MALAYSIA is naturally blessed with scenic coastlines, beautiful reefs and deep turquoise waters. More so when we venture out to our east coast. Covering a total area of 66,000sq km, the east coast, however, is more than just a holiday paradise.

Since the launch of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) in 2007, the region, which covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang as well as the district of Mersing in Johor, has undergone rapid development and transformation.

Projects such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), Pekan Automotive Park, Pasir Mas Halal Park and Kemaman Heavy Industry Park have created new employment and business opportunities for the people in the region.

Despite the steady socioeconomic growth attributed to these ventures, the Government is aware of the need for a transport backbone to drive sustainable development and more importantly, provide an efficient link to Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley, where most of our economic and commercial activity takes place.

This crucial backbone is known as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

Traversing the coast of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before cutting through the central region of Selangor, the ECRL will be implemented in two phases.

The first phase stretches some 600.3km, from Wakaf Bharu in Kelantan to the Integrated Transport Terminal in Gombak (ITT Gombak), serving townships such as Bentong, Chukai, Kuala Terengganu and Gambang.

The second phase, which is in the planning stage, measures about 88km and covers the stretch from ITT Gombak to the 12th busiest port in the world – Port Klang.

Supporting existing development on the east coast

To date, at least 25% of all traded goods and 25% of all oil that travels by sea rely on the Straits of Malacca. Established as one of the most important trade routes in the world, the 890km stretch is also notorious for being narrow and considered a major shipping bottleneck.

The ECRL seeks to change this through the creation of a channel across Peninsular Malaysia. This would give freight transporters better options instead of relying on the overcrowded Straits of Malacca to transport their goods.

The ECRL will link several key east coast industrial hubs – Kertih Port, Kemaman Port and Kuantan Port, to name a few – directly to the west coast of the peninsula.

Concurrently, the Government and private sector have already invested some RM4bil to upgrade and expand the Kuantan Port into a deep-water port.

Aimed at complementing the ECRL to provide future users with a more seamless route, the port will double its capacity to 52 million in handling freight weight tonnes (FWT) when the work is completed in 2018. It will also allow the port to accommodate vessels up to 200,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT).

With the ECRL in place, it is estimated that the shipments of products and commodities to East Asian countries will be reduced by hundreds of kilometres, thus saving precious shipping time and cost.

Strengthening tourism and creating a safer, more convenient way to travel

The ECRL will also serve as an inter-city passenger rail, with a fleet of 11 eight-car train sets planned. With each train able to accommodate up to 600 passengers, the intent here is to open up a coastal tourism belt along the east coast and at the same time fortify existing tourist destinations’ potential through better access.

For instance, the ECRL will be connected to the KTM East Coast Line which has a stop in Jerantut – the main gateway to one of Malaysia’s key eco-tourism destinations, Taman Negara.

Tourism aside, the ECRL will provide an attractive option for individuals travelling back to their hometowns on the east coast during festive periods and school holidays. Passengers will be able to travel end-to-end (on the Wakaf Bharu-ITT Gombak line and on to Port Klang) in only about four hours, compared to at least 12 hours by road currently.

Fostering inclusive growth

When phase 1 of the project is completed in 2024, the ECRL will spur an unprecedented level of development in Malaysia in an inclusive manner. The Government has made a promise of achieving high-income nation status by 2020. We are on track, but this must be done with the assurance that all pockets of our nation achieve growth across the board.

This is a necessary process as this would ensure that growth is sustainable and that everyone will enjoy Malaysia’s high-income stature.

I strongly believe that the ECRL will open up more opportunities and provide equal footing to entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises on the east coast.

Based on projections, it is expected that this key socioeconomic enabler will create a Gross Domestic Product impact worth RM50.1bil. Additionally, the three coastal states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are projected to grow by an average of 1.5% more annually.

In the bigger picture, the ECRL will serve as a catalyst to bridge the economic gap between the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia. This will fulfil the strategic objective of the National Land Public Transport Master Plan, ensuring the nation is physically well connected and rural intercity connectivity is enhanced.

I am optimistic we will get there.

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is Minister of Transport Malaysia and MCA President. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Tags / Keywords: Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai , columnist

More Articles

Filter by

Unlocking the value of our east coast

28 July 2017

The East Coast Rail Link will be a transport backbone that boosts development and provides a link across the peninsula.

Come, let’s ride the MRT

14 July 2017

Klang Valley’s public transport network has helped reduce traffic congestion and make us more mobile.

Hari Raya – time for unity among all races

30 June 2017

We should take stock of how our nation was built, and what we need to do to continue growing.

Making roads safer begins with you

18 June 2017

Let’s internalise the culture of safety which all the campaigns have been promoting.

Building bridges: Xi speaking to the media during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. — AFP

Seizing the Belt and Road opportunity

2 June 2017

Three key memoranda of understanding highlight our commitment to the initiative and our progress so far.

Smooth ride: An MRT train from the Kampung Selamat station heading towards the Kwasa Damansara station.

Big on providing better connectivity

20 May 2017

The Government is providing more options, and more and more commuters are abandoning their cars in favour of these options.

Movers and shakers: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak shaking hands with Alibaba founder Jack Ma at the launch of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone.

DFTZ – the wheels of change

5 May 2017

Malaysia’s logistics industry needs a disruptive innovation to ensure its sustainability.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (fifth from left) presented a souvenir to China's Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang after the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative: Malaysia-China Cultural and Arts Year at Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur. Also present was China Education Ministry Vocational Education Committee deputy chairman Prof Liu Yanshen (fourth from left) and MCA vice president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung (third from left). SAMUEL ONG / THE STAR

Understanding the Belt and Road initiative

21 April 2017

Such projects promise strategic benefits, more fiscal resilience and economic opportunities waiting to be tapped.

We either grow or be left behind

7 April 2017

Malaysia has successfully achieved an exciting new phase and milestone in the Logistics and Trade Facilitation Masterplan.

Both e-hailing and taxi services can co-exist

24 March 2017

INNOVATION is a tricky business. It is a disruption to the norm. On the one hand, it offers opportunity and development. On the other, it may cause some to be left behind.

  • Page 1 of 2

Go to page:


Recent Posts