Monday, April 15, 2019

The ECRL Project Resumes

The East Coast Rail Link which is the 688km rail project to connect the east and west coasts of peninsular Malaysia across the Titiwangsa mountain range, is back on. 

The PH government had suspended the ECRL, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative – when it ousted Barisan Nasional in the general election last year due to its high cost. 

But they have made a U-turn – on Friday, a supplementary agreement was inked to pave the way for the resumption of the mega-infrastructure project. 

The signing was achieved after months of negotiations between the companies involved (i.e. Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Company Ltd) as well as the governments of Malaysia and China. 

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad clarified that the government decided to go back to the negotiating table because its termination would cost RM21.78 billion with “nothing to show for it”. 

With this improved deal, the original cost of RM65.5 billion is now reduced to RM44 billion, a reduction of RM21.5 billion. For sure, the cost reduction is expected to ease the government’s financial burden. 

The benefits to us are now obvious:

  • The cost per kilometer is to be pared down from RM98 million to RM68 million. 
  • The total distance is to be scaled down by 40km – the 17.8km long Genting Tunnel from Bentong to Gombak is axed and the new alignment will avoid the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in Selangor, which is being established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Part of the RM3.1 billion advance payment will be refunded.
  • Malaysian participation in civil works is up from 30 percent to 40 percent. 
  • MRL and CCCC will form a 50:50 joint venture to operate and maintain the ECRL service.
All of the above was achieved because we put the country’s interests first and foremost.

Neil Lennon's Celtic continued their bid for a treble treble by sweeping aside Aberdeen 3-0 on Sunday to set up a Scottish Cup final against Hearts. 

James Forrest (45+2) put Celtic ahead, Odsonne Edouard (61) converted a penalty, and Tom Rogic struck eight minutes later. 

It was an abject Aberdeen humiliation when they conceded three goals, had two players sent off and a manager and an assistant manager exiled to the stands.

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