BENTONG: Tender for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) infrastructure works, valued at several billion ringgit, will be opened in April in stages.
At least 30% of the civil works packages, (excluding tunnel works) is earmarked for local firms although China's state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has been awarded the RM55bil ECRL project.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) head of construction Noor Azlan Salleh said the ECRL project comprises 60% infrastructure works and 40% system works.
"Starting April, the CCCC will open the tender to the pool of local contractors who had pre-registered last October. "
The tender will be opened in stages to eligible local firms," he said during a media visit to the ECRL construction site here Thursday.
He also said the project, which is currently in the first phase, is on the right track.
"Currently in Bentong itself, works to prepare for the construction of three tunnels are underway," he said.
There will be 45 tunnels on multiple sites built along the alignment for the project, including a 16.37km twin bore tunnel from Bentong to Gombak, which makes it the longest rail tunnel in Malaysia.
"Named the Genting tunnel, it will be built using two sets of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) which will be brought in from China in November this year," he added.
Currently, MRL is in the midst of ground preparation work to receive the TBM machines, said Noor Azlan.
"By June, we have to firm up the routes leading up to the tunnel construction site, which is located on uneven, zigzag routes in order to receive the machines," he said.
The TBM machines are expected to be transported from Port Klang in Selangor to the site here in November while work on the Genting tunnel will begin in 2019 after the machines have been set up.
The other tunnels will be built using the drill and blast method.
The ECRL project, covering 688km from Port Klang in Selangor to Tumpat in Kelantan, is a big-ticket infrastructure project set to change the face of the east coast.
At the project's peak period, which is expected to come in the third quarter of next year (July to September), between 18,000 to 20,000 construction workers are expected to be involved, added Noor Azlan.
Meanwhile starting March, vacancies for about 3,000 local workers in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor for various construction jobs will be opened.
MRL is the special purpose vehicle under the Minister of Finance Incorporated tasked as the project owner.
The ECRL is expected to be completed in June 2024.
The ECRL is seen not only to be able to change the economic landscape of east coast states, including Pahang, and spur development, but also change the social structure, especially of the rural areas.
For example, with the ECRL, those who live in Bentong can reach Kuala Lumpur in about 25 minutes.
The ECRL would create an estimated 80,000 jobs while the gross domestic product of the three states is expected to increase by 1.5%.
The project ranks among the most challenging engineering and construction projects in Malaysia as a sizeable area cuts across the hilly terrain of the Titiwangsa Range and dense forests.
The original ECRL design could have involved the loss of over 2,000ha of forest reserves but modifications to the alignment and provisions of 45 tunnels with a total length of about 49km have managed to reduce the loss of forests by 90%.
Wildlife underpasses will also be built at 29 strategic locations so that wildlife can move freely despite the railway line passing through.
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