Sub-cons and workers worried about payment now that ECRL derailed

Mohamad Azim Fitri Abd Aziz

KUANTAN: The cancellation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) has led to fear that workers and also sub-contractors involved in the project may end up not getting paid for work done. A sub-contractor of the project said as it was, they were already experiencing late payment for jobs that had been completed. The man, who declined to be named, said delays in the payment started after rumours spread about the cancellation of the project since the past two months. “Now the official announcement of the cancellation has made us even more worried. “I don’t know whether we will even get paid for work that has been done,” he said, adding the company he worked with was involved in the ECRL construction at the Kota Sultan Ahmad Shah (KotaSAS) Central Station project site. The man said even sub-contractors at the Bentong ECRL station site were facing the same fears. He said certain things which were earlier agreed upon with the sub-contractors were later cancelled. The government’s decision to scrap the ECRL project was announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the end of his official visit to China on Tuesday. Also cancelled was the construction of two gas pipeline projects in Sabah. Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying that the government needed to manage its debt and that the projects cost too much. Meanwhile, a visit to the KotaSAS station showed that security was tight with unauthorised personnel not allowed to enter the site. Two guards prevented anyone from taking pictures or recording visuals, saying they had received instruction to prevent people from doing so - even from outside the main entrance. However, unlike the hype during the ground-breaking ceremony by the then Barisan Nasional government on Aug 9 last year where huge excavators and cement trucks were parked, the project site was now a far cry with no heavy machinery in sight. The ECRL project, proposed during former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration, has attracted much controversy as its cost had hit the RM70 billion mark. Dr Mahathir had objected to the project, describing it as a “strange” deal as Malaysia had to bear a loan from China, besides hiring contractors from that country only. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd