KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The government must ensure the welfare of workers retrenched due to the cancellation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), said Ketari state assemblyman Young Syefura Othman.
She also said land previously earmarked for the infrastructure project must be rehabilitated.
While saying the ECRL could have been beneficial to surrounding areas, she accepted the government’s decision to call the project off.
“The government must be aware that the cancellation of this project has affected nearly 2,000 workers who have lost their livelihoods.
“What's more regrettable, is that it is estimated that more than 1,000 workers comprise of Malaysians and Bentong natives themselves,” she said in a statement.
Work on the ECRL had also started in Genting and Bentong, she said when estimating this was at 14 per cent completion.
Among others, she said a forest has been cleared while sections have been prepared for the railway and accompanying tunnel.
“If these construction sites are left idle after termination, the project will have adverse effects on the environment, and may result in future catastrophes,” Syefura added.
“The government must be aware that after the cancellation of a huge project such as the ECRL, there are important steps which must be enforced too, especially those linked to impacts on the economy, social and environment,” she added.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced in Beijing two days ago that China has agreed to cancel the ECRL and two gas pipeline projects in Malaysia as the latter could not afford to continue with them.
The cancellations are subject to both countries’ agreement on the compensation, which is still under negotiations.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng previously said the company responsible for hiring the workers for the ECRL must be the one responsible for their compensation and subsequent placements.