No decision yet on the status of the ECRL

Hidir Reduan

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has not decided on whether to scrap or continue with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project as negotiations with stakeholders are on-going.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that if the government decides to continue with the project, an in-depth study needs to be done to secure a mutual agreement with the Selangor state government.

In July, it was reported that the Selangor state government has strong objection to a portion of the project covering the Gombak-Port Klang portion.

The objection was over the state government’s bid for Unesco World Heritage Site certification for the 16km Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, considered the longest quartz dyke in the world.

Today, Lim said that any decision to continue with the project must also consider the scope, specification and method of implementation to lessen the project’s overall cost and thus decrease the government’s financial burden.

“If the government decides not to continue with the project, there is a big chance that it would be referred to a legal process to determine the cost of compensation, if needed to be paid,” he said.

Lim was speaking during the answer and questions session at the Dewan Rakyat today.

The minister was answering a question from Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Abd Muttalib (BN-Maran), who wanted to know the latest status of the construction of the project, among others.

Part of Ismail’s main question also included a query on the justification of the rise in ECRL construction cost from the initial RM55 billion announced during the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

In July, Lim had revealed that the project actually cost RM81 billion.

“The stated cost (RM81 billion) is not a new cost because the estimation of the overall cost originated from the past government which was not revealed to the public,” said Lim.

In response to Ismail’s supplementary question on what steps the government has taken to address the issue of the laid-off workforce from companies involved in the project, Lim said compensation can only be done by the companies themselves.

“These workers were not hired by the federal government but by the China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC). Compensation need to be done by the company. However, the government is ready to assist (where it can),” he said.

Connecting Port Klang in Selangor to Pengkalan Kubor, Kelantan, the railway link project was approved by the previous government. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd