Malaysia, China to sign contract for RM55bil East Coast Railway on Tuesday

China Railway showcases models of its high speed trains in Kuala Lumpur at an exhibition and symposium in December 2015.

BEIJING: Malaysia and China will sign the framework financing agreement and engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) contract for the RM55bil East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) project on Tuesday.

Treasury Secretary-General, Tan Sri Dr Irwan Serigar Abdullah, said if the financing for the project could be finalised by year-end, the new double-track rail project connecting Port Klang (Selangor) to Tumpat (Kelantan) could take off by next year.

He said the spin-offs of the project would be lower transportation costs between west and east coasts of Peninsular Malaysia, lower prices of goods and travelling time and would be reduced. 

“It will also will help create more jobs and business opportunities for Malaysians, especially the rural folks,” he told Malaysian media when met after welcoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who arrived in Beijing on Monday for a six-day official visit to China.

Irwan said although the agreement had not been finalised yet, the financing offered by China was competitive with a low rate and a long repayment period of 20 years.

He said the project was crucial to Malaysia and could not be delayed since it would not only spur the country’s transportation industry development, but also help to speed up growth of small towns along the way,

The project would also assist in the transfer of technology in railway industry, he said. 

“Future development of railway is the in thing, and Malaysia needs to take the move in getting the technology and the new system in railway construction,” he said

On which area would be developed first, Irwan said, it would be built in phases, the first phase from Port Klang - Gombak - Dungun (Terengganu) and second phase from Dungun to Tumpat.

On which phase would take off first, he said, it would depend on one that was easy to build.

He said the land acquisition would also not be a problem for the ECRL project.

Najib, in tabling the 2017 Budget, said the project would be launched in phases and would connect townships such as Port Klang, ITT (Integrated Transport Terminal) Gombak, Bentong, Mentakab, Kuantan, Kemaman, Kerteh, Kuala Terengganu, and Kota Baru, ending in Tumpat.

The construction of the project is expected to start next year and completed in 2022.

Meanwhile, on Najib’s meeting with Jack Ma, founder/executive chairman of Alibaba Group, Irwan said, this represented one of Malaysia’s efforts to learn from China on digital economy. - Bernama

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