LETTER | Over the last couple of weeks, the government had echoed its stand on the most talked about East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project. Now, it looks like the ECRL will be finally be given the go-ahead with adjustments to the pricing and scope of works.
To recap, the ECRL project was pushed ahead at lightning speed so much so the agreement was not analysed in detail to check if this project truly brings a good return for the country, its people and the local rail industry.
During the initial phase, there were some initiatives to provide some scope of works to local contractors. However, these were not much to be talked about. It certainly would not create an impact on the development of the local rail industry.
Though this project is financed by a foreign country and its entity, nevertheless one must remember that finally, the amount will be paid by the government of Malaysia. In this aspect, as the client, the government must see to it that this project rightly benefits the country and the local rail industry.
One area the government should seriously look at is generating greater opportunities for local rail industry players be they in rail infra works or system packages. The government should push the main contractor to work with competent and qualified local rail industry players as co-suppliers and system integrators.
Earlier, not many opportunities were given in these segments for local rail industry players. This situation limited the involvement of local rail industry players who had contributed and were actively involved in system packages in previous rail projects in the country.
Another area of concern is the procurement of rolling stock for the ECRL project. Based on the original concept, this portion, too, will be entirely supplied by the foreign consortium partners which, again, does not propel the growth of local rolling stock industry players.
Today, there are local industry players who have done well in assembly, system integration and as such have the competency to co-manufacture rolling stock for Malaysia.
Hence it is hoped the government will re-look at all aspects regarding the ECRL project and will come to a fair decision which truly benefits the country and helps to steer the local rail industry players.
There must be a concerted effort to recognise local rail industry players and provide them with opportunities to manufacture a fraction of the rolling stock needs and also the sub-components.
Creating a sustainable local rail industry is important as it is now also an avenue for many young Malaysians engineers to hone their skills and knowledge in rail engineering disciplines.