ECRL cost can be cut in half

THE new price tag for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) announced two days ago is way too high.

Surprisingly, it is very different from all the previous figures quoted by Dr Mahathir, Anthony Loke and Wee Ka Siong, the latter taking over responsibility for the project in March 2020.

Even after Wee amended the route, the south alignment was swapped back to the northern route, the cost quoted was only RM55 billion.

So, where has the new figure of RM75 billion come from?

A more mind-boggling figure was that the original figure was said to be RM86 billion (a figure not previously published), thus the current government is claiming to have saved the country of RM11 billion.

Really? This is unbelievable. Too many figures, have been bandied about for this ECRL drama.

Many people think that they are all fabricated or possibly fraudulent, which have caused all the confusion and trust deficit in the government.

Based on the current cost per km (worldwide) for a single-track railway line of a standard gauge, I would be very happy to undertake the construction of this 665km track for only half of the original price of RM86 billion.

Yes, I am very serious and I think I can deliver a good product, save the government about RM43 billion and still make a tidy profit from it, too.

Economic benefits

I will not only reduce the government expenditure but I will also provide job opportunities for 10,000 local workers, create jobs for 1,000 local technical staff and will offer positions for 500 local engineers.

I will be able to offer at least 50 local subcontractors to undertake some civil engineering project like site preparations, earth works, civil and drainage, as well as the supply of equipment and basic materials.

My RM43 billion contract payments will remain and circulated in Malaysia to pay for all the local employees, technicians, engineers, managers, subcontractors and suppliers.

At least, the money will not flow out of Malaysia.

The contract value will be injected into the local economy, circulated and every local worker will be flush with cash from monthly salaries and wages for the next five years.

I will employ mainly local people in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, and in five years their standard of living would be elevated, at par with those in Selangor or Penang.

I will make sure that most of the construction materials are sourced locally and not imported from China.

All the machinery and equipment will also be sourced locally, including all the basic building materials such as gravel, sand, steel bars, cement, rocks and bricks.

Manufacturing Facilities

I will set up a manufacturing plant in Terengganu to build railway coaches.

From the contract price, I will import railway wagons, upon which I will commission local industrial designers to build modern coaches for the comfort of passengers.

In this way, I will save the country’s further outflows. It will stop Malaysia from spending more funds to import expensive railway coaches in the future and at the same time create more jobs for local graduates.

We have a sufficient market, which includes LRT, MRT, ERL and KTMB. In the future we could also export our locally made coaches to other countries.

Since we don’t produce locomotives locally, I will import those from established loco producers, preferably from low cost countries like Spain, Romania or Hungary, and put in conditions that they have to bring in components, so that assembly will be carried out here.

Local workers can be trained and taught the right skills to undertake the assembly.

Through this transfer of technology and technical co-operation, our future workers will be more competent and able to maintain the locomotives.

This is another saving, especially in light of the continuous problems in maintenance faced by LRT, MRT and KTMB.

I will also train the locals to be involved in rail operation and management, focusing on their talents, knowledge, experience during construction and competency in train operation.

Funds outflow

I can plan this project better than the current contractor.

They obviously did not plan the alignment well because half of their route and construction sites are now under water due to floods in Kelantan and Terengganu.

You can imagine what will happen to this railway line in future.

Chinese contractors reaped all the financial benefits, all the workers are brought from mainland China.

The local economies of Kelantan and Terengganu have not benefited from this massive government expenditure at all. This is much regrettable.

The contracts with the Chinese companies did not specify the participation of local labour.

This speaks volumes of the failure of the previous government.

This new government prides itself about transparency and accountability, so this is the best opportunity to expose all the wrong doings and show commitment to righting them.

This project involves public funds, which should benefit Malaysians and not be given to foreigners.

I know a lot of people are very unhappy indeed, in this season of giving.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. – December 23, 2022.

* Rosli Khan reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.


  • Same as to why the North-South Highway was awarded to UEM when it was Pilecon that won the open tender.

    Otherwise the UMNO HQ would NOT exist!

    Posted 1 year ago by Malaysian First · Reply