CIVIL works on the multi-billion ringgit electrified double tracking rail project linking Johor Baru to Padang Besar could be completed in three years, according to a proposal by Malaysia Mining Corp Bhd (MMC) which submitted a tender bid jointly with Gamuda Bhd last month.
We have proposed that it can be completed in 36 months. We will start work as soon as we get the award, said MMC group chief executive Datuk Ismail Shahudin after the company AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He, however, said that the company was still in a preliminary discussion with the government and declined to elaborate on the matter.
The MMC-Gamuda bid would involve work on two stretches; Johor Baru to Seremban and Ipoh to Padang Besar.
It was reported two weeks ago that MMC and Gamuda had put in a bid of RM14.5bil to undertake the double tracking job, 40% less than the joint bids submitted two months ago by Indian Railway Construction Co (IRCO) and China Railway Engineering Group (CREC).
Ismail did not rule out the possibility of working with the Indian and Chinese groups.
It is part and parcel of a bigger framework. The owner of the project has to make the decision, he said.
The double-tracking line is part of the trans-Asia grid linking Singapore to Kunming in China.
Ismail said the group was interested in the railway project as it was part of MMC's overall strategy to be involved in intermodal activities. MMC is involved in the port operations through its 50.1% owned Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP).
It recently teamed up with Gamuda to take over KTM Bhd.
Ismail said PTP would start to break even next year and expects to post a profit in 2005.
The port has become a major regional transhipment hub in three years of operations and on course to achieving its target of over 3 million TEUs by year-end, he said.
PTP already contributes positively to group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. However, due to the long gestation period for ports and interest payments for its borrowings, PTP currently records a loss, he added.
On the prospects of the group's other businesses, he said the utilities and engineering subsidiaries would continue to contribute stable cash flow and earnings.
Malakoff Bhd will continue to be the major earnings contributor in the short term. Gas Malaysia is experiencing a sharp increase in demand for natural gas with the introduction of new tariffs and we expect an increasing contribution from this subsidiary in the coming years, said Ismail.