Paving way for stronger economy

Najib (fourth from left) at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gemas-Johor Baru Double-Tracked Electric Train Service. Looking on are (from left) Dr Subramaniam, Mohamed Khaled, Ning, Liow and Bai Tian.

SEGAMAT: The government is focused on improving the country’s public transport system, with the aim of achieving advanced economy status for Malaysia.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gemas-Johor Baru stretch of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s Double-Tracked Electric Train Service (ETS).

The ETS, he said, was a popular service and he himself had taken a ride with Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai from Kuala Lumpur to Tanjung Malim.

“A lot of people living in Tanjung Malim, or Ipoh for that matter, use the ETS to come to work in Kuala Lumpur daily,” Najib said.

With the completed line, he added, folks could enjoy quality life outside the city, with larger pieces of land and homes, but still work in town.

The 192km Gemas-Johor Baru stretch will start after Sungai Gemas in Negri Sembilan, passing through 11 stations in Johor.

These are Segamat, Genuang, Labis, Bekok, Paloh, Kluang, Mengkibol, Rengam, Layang-Layang, Kulai and Kempas Baru, before terminating in Johor Baru Sentral Station in the city centre.

Najib said the project would also enhance Malaysia-China relations, and bring more economic opportunities to the areas the line passed through.

The Prime Minister also announced the inclusion of Segamat District into the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) during the groundbreaking.

The district will be included in Node 4 of the ECER.

He said the inclusion was due to its economic ties with both Rompin in Pahang, and Mersing on Johor’s East Coast.

“I know a lot of Felda settlers in Rompin come down to shop and do business in Segamat,” Najib said, adding that a RM20mil allocation had been approved for the Segamat Inland Port’s (SIP) further development.

Liow, who also attended the launch, said once completed, travel time between Johor Baru and KL Sentral would only take four hours, and one could cross from Johor to Padang Besar, Perlis, in less than 10 hours.

Other dignitaries attending the launch included Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Health Minister and Segamat MP Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam, People’s Republic of China Ambassador Bai Tian and vice chairman of the PRC’s National Development and Reform Commission, Ning Jizhe.

As part of the country’s National Key Economic Areas, public transport must be efficient, reliable and affordable, Najib said.

“In line with that, we took firm and positive steps such as creating the Public Land Transport Commission (SPAD) to regulate the industry, and ensure it develops holistically,” he added.

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