ECRL helps maintain economic momentum: Malaysian official
Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 28, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — The successful ongoing construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Malaysia’s mega rail project being built by China Communications Construction Company, has helped Malaysia maintain momentum in key economic sectors, a Malaysian official said.
The work on the railway has ensured continued economic activity even during disruptions caused by the pandemic, especially in the rail and construction sectors, with the project being expected to accelerate economic development to Malaysia’s east coast upon completion, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook told Xinhua in an interview.
Loke explained that the vast scale of the project will have a trickle-down effect with part of the project being undertaken by Malaysian companies.
“There is local participation in the construction of this project. So when this project is ongoing, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, definitely it helps in terms of our construction sector,” he said.
Constructors work at the construction site of the Genting tunnel of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) near Bentong in Pahang state, Malaysia, Dec. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)
The 665-km ECRL is jointly developed by Malaysia Rail Link, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance and owner of the ECRL project, and its construction has included high-tech methods including state-of-the-art Chinese-made tunnel boring machines used to excavate some of the longest tunnels in the region.
Commenting on the strategic importance of the ECRL, Loke said the railway will be a crucial connecting bridge between the country’s highly developed west coast and its less developed east coast, allowing the development of those areas and connecting Malaysia’s largest transport hub Port Klang with a cross-peninsula railway.
“We have to look at it (ECRL) from a strategic point of view when you have industry based on the east coast and with ECRL, goods can be transported by ECRL towards Port Klang. As you know, Port Klang is our major port in Malaysia. By connecting ECRL to the major port in Malaysia, definitely, I think this is a plus point for any industrial areas along the ECRL line,” he said.
“We want to bring more industries to the east coast and with more industrial areas, of course, we hope that there’ll be more economic development along the ECRL line. Once the transportation network is in place, then definitely we hope that it will bring more economic spillover to those states,” he added.
This photo taken on Dec. 29, 2022 shows the construction site of the Genting tunnel of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) near Bentong in Pahang state, Malaysia. (Xinhua/Zhu Wei)
Loke also said that close cooperation with China would continue to strengthen, with Malaysia engaging with Chinese companies for Malaysia’s infrastructure development.
“As far as (the) Malaysian government is concerned, we have a lot of major infrastructure projects, which are done by the Chinese companies. And, of course, they play an important role in such projects. And moving forward, I can foresee there will be more participation from Chinese companies,” he said.
Loke also said that Malaysia will maintain its strong and friendly diplomatic stance towards China.
“We have a long history of the relationship between Malaysia and China. We are connected in many ways. I think the respective governments are working together in many areas and I think this is important going forward, not only for economic development but also for regional security and regional cooperation,” he added.