PETALING JAYA: Former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong has congratulated the new government for continuing with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project as scheduled.
He said he was glad that the current government had given its commitment to proceed with the ECRL project per the decisions made previously.
"This gives clarity, predictability, and confidence to all stakeholders involved, including those who would eventually benefit from the service once it's completed.
"The project progress is now about 37% and we all hope to see it completed on schedule in December 2026 and start operations from early 2027," he said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 22).
Dr Wee was responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim press conference after the Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya on Wednesday (Dec 21) that the ECRL project would proceed at a reduced overall cost of RM74.96bil, compared with the original cost of RM85.97bil approved in 2016.
Dr Wee commended the Selangor State Government for working with the Federal Government to finalise the Supplementary Agreement 6 (SA6).
"My joint press conference with Mentrri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari on December 2, 2021 marked the state’s acceptance to proceed with the northern alignment (now dubbed ECRL 3.0 alignment) after all outstanding issues with the state’s environmental and social concerns were resolved.
"Their acceptance allowed MRL Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) to sign the SA6 on June 2, 2022 to carry on with the last package of the 665km rail project at a cost of RM50.27bil, which includes a land bridge to Port Klang link the ECRL to West Port and North Port," he said.
Dr Wee added that the RM50.27bil, after all settled issues and negotiations, was the final cost figure for ECRL project which had been approved by Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department (JPM)’s Economic Planning Unit (EPU), adding that the cost figure of RM50.27bil was also presented to the then-Cabinet and subsequently endorsed by Cabinet early this year.
On the project cost for ECRL in 2016, Dr Wee said he had no knowledge about the initial cost quoted by the Prime Minister.
"However, I can certainly confirm that the scope of work involved at that time varied from the existing alignment with a reduction in terms of construction work, even though it was maintained at the same unit rate of cost.
"The number of stations has been reduced, soil improvement work has been omitted in 2019 while the ECRL was decided to be terminated at Kota Bharu instead of Pengkalan Kubor," he explained.
The ECRL is a 640km-long railway link connecting states in the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia, which will dramatically reduce travel time between the two regions.