BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The government today ordered the developer of the new Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Custom, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) Complex to complete the first phase of the RM425 million project by August.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the order was issued after the government decided to interfere in the project, which is 576 days behind schedule since the construction works began in mid-2014.
Zahid said he would personally visit the site in the next 45 days to inspect on the work progress.
"The government has ordered the developer to complete phase one of the project by this August so that all 19 agencies will have one month to carry out a trial run before the complex begins its operation by September.
"As for the second phase, we have set the new delivery deadline by December 31, 2018 and for operations to begin by January 2019," Zahid told a press conference at the Malaysian Border Security Agency (Aksem) headquarters here after visiting the site today.
He said the government views the Private Funding Initiative (PFI) project seriously as it is part of the National Logistics Policy to enhance the nation's position in the Southeast Asia region, in particular the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).
"This project is part of the Prime Minister's (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) vision for the country's new National Logistic Policy and we need to expedite the project since our counterpart in Thailand has already completed their new ICQS Complex in Dannok," he said.
Zahid said once completed, the project would help to boost the government’s revenue through improved efficiency in the border checkpoints operation as the intention is to extend the operating hours from 18 hours to 24 hours daily.
"Currently, the government is generating RM50 million per month or RM600 million a year in terms of taxes collected at the border and we hope once completed, the revenue will improve further.
"Based on records, we have about 3 million people traveling in and out of the border, so we hope that the project will also spur our tourism sector," he said.
On the plan to extend the border checkpoints operations in Bukit Kayu Hitam and in Padang Besar, Perlis to 24 hours, Zahid said the government would hold further discussions with its Thai counterpart.
"The Thai government has in principle agreed to the plan but we need to hold more bilateral discussions to iron out the details," he said, adding that the government has yet to decide on the date.
Later, Zahid received a courtesy call from Thai Defence deputy minister General Udomdej Sitabutr.