KUALA LUMPUR: Syria has requested Malaysia to assist in speeding up the development and implementation of infrastructure projects there, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said.
He said Syria has urged Malaysia to complete the remaining 60 km of the 100km Damascus outer ring road project and also participate in the construction of low cost houses, hospitals and a light rail transport.
Speaking to reporters after launching MIC's national training and employment portal and seminars on Thursday, Samy Vellu said Syria was interested in joint ventures with Malaysian companies to complete the projects.
"A German company has completed the design for another 40km. We don't mind working with them (German company) to complete the remaining 20km of the road," Samy Vellu said.
He was one of the Malaysian ministers who accompanied Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on an official visit to Syria from Feb 25 to 27.
He said Syrian President Dr Bashar al-Assad had also requested him to expedite the projects discussed with Abdullah.
Among the projects discussed was the construction of a new international airport in Damascus at the existing airport site, construction of low cost houses and building of hospitals with 100 beds and 50 beds.
Samy Vellu said the Syrian government had also requested a Malaysian company to undertake a light rail transport project but it failed to take off due to financial constraints.
"They wanted us to build and operate the light rail but due to high cost of the project, it was not taken up by any Malaysian company. Our companies cannot afford it and I had requested the Syrian government to share the cost of constructing it," he said.
Samy Vellu said that he would also meet up with the Malaysian company to get more details on the light rail project.