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M'sia to spend US$49b on rail projects
Publication Date : 11-09-2013
The Malaysian government is expected to spend an estimated 160 billion ringgit (US$49 billion) more on rail-related projects until 2020, said Najib Tun Razak.
The prime minister said the railroad industry had seen “massive expansion” in Asia and become an increasingly significant mode in Malaysia’s efforts to improve public transportation.
“Along with the rapid development of rail networks comes the challenge of the application of rail and rail-related technology. The application of intelligent infrastructure in rail can be a game changer, by lowering costs and improving safety and reliability at the same time,” he said in his address before launching the inaugural Rail Business Asia 2013 here on Tuesday.
Adding that the government had invested over 50 billion ringgit ($15 billion) since 1990, he stressed the need to train skilled and specialised manpower to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs generated from rail projects.
“Thousands of vacancies will have to be filled. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project alone is estimated to create about 130,000 jobs,” he noted, adding that trained workers were needed for tasks such as construction of tracks, facilities as well as for research and development.
Najib said another 800 jobs would be created from the first phase of the 400 million ringgit ($122 million) Asean Rail Centre in Batu Gajah, Perak, which is expected to be completed by mid-2014.
“Eventually, the centre will cover an all-in-one scope of work for production, assembly, testing, overhaul and refurbishment of trains for the Asean region,” he said.
Najib urged skill training institutes, including those under the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), to speed up the pace in producing the required number of skilled manpower.
He welcomed the Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD) skill-training academy for rail industry workers, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd’s training programmes and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology’s memorandum of understanding with French multinational Thales Group to train locals.
Once fully operational, he said the MRT would cover 156km and see up to two million trips per day, a huge jump from the 500,000 daily trips on the current urban rail system.
Najib added that another project in the pipeline was the 330km-long Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail link, estimated to be completed by 2020 which would cut land travelling time between the two countries to just 90 minutes.
At another function earlier, Najib said the government was actively trying to strike a balance between environmental conservation and economic development.
He added that this was not an easy path for developing countries which were often more exposed and vulnerable to environmental threats.
“Integrating economic, health and environmental policies is easier said than done.
“It takes strong leadership to instil change, ensure a common vision and enhance cross-sectoral cooperation at the national, regional and global levels,” he said in his address before launching the Third Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Forum on Environment and Health in Southeast and East Asian Countries on Tuesday.