Malaysiakini Letter

A plea to review all the high-cost transport projects

Rosli Khan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Malaysian Branch wishes to offer our heartiest congratulations to Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his party, Pakatan Harapan, for winning the 14th Malaysian general election and taking over the government from BN.

As a professional body we remain apolitical but obviously very committed to upholding the rule of law, justice and fairness in the country’s administration. Our member’s interests are to see that our beloved country, Malaysia, is free from the clutches of corruption and abuse of power. Thus, a sense of high expectation accompanies this change of government, as far as logistics and transport specialists in Malaysia are concerned.

In order for this specialised sector to expand and grow, it is imperative that the country is put back on the right track, steered in the right direction albeit on a much needed stronger foundations (via institutional reforms) and sound economic platforms.

In this regard, our main concerns are aimed at a number of large-scale transport infrastructure projects being planned for the country. These projects should only be undertaken if they are not burdensome to the current country’s financial position and fall within the limits of our targeted revenue to debt ratio, which is already very high.

Projects such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), the High Speed Rail (MyHSR) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, the Penang Undersea Tunnel, the Gemas - Johor Baru Double Tracking Project, the MRT3, the MRT4 and a number of ports along the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia are thus, brought into focus.

The ECRL, MyHSR and Penang Tunnel, for instance, are massive transport infrastructure projects which all require equally massive funding from the public purse.

In short, their initial assessments do not reflect high levels of economic benefits; the ECRL serves a very low demand corridor, the MyHSR will have negative impacts on air travel/KLIA airport demands, whilst the Penang Undersea Tunnel will induce more car travel and will lead to massive traffic gridlocks in Penang island, a very damaging environmental impact to such a livable heritage city.

While we should strongly support economic transformation, employment creation and the making of efficient logistics and transportation systems for Malaysia, their implementation, however, should not be undertaken at any cost.

As such, we, at CILT-Malaysia, strongly feel that our new government should review all of these high-cost projects and decide only on those that would really bring maximum benefits to the region and the people that they intend to serve. And, not to mention, at a reasonable cost.

We are fully aware that, at the moment, our KTM rail capacity, for instance, has been expanded via double tracking. However, its utilisation factor remains low and services are left much to be desired.

By right, our rail system should have captured a big chunk of the long-distance freight traffic, but instead, the highways, although more costly, are inefficiently serving this market, resulting in highway congestions and accompanied by a high rate of highway traffic accidents.

Similarly, passenger rail services have not been successful in countering the high usage of private cars for long-distance travel.

This situation, therefore, warrants immediate attention and correction rather than embarking on a new and another massive piece of infrastructure that is overly expensive and of little use and benefit.

We, CILT-M members, therefore, fully support the government initiatives to review all of these high-cost transport infrastructure projects and would be very pleased to assist the government in whatever little capacity that CILT-Malaysia can offer.

Hopefully, our participation will enhance the efficiency and dynamics of the logistics and transport sector in Malaysia, for the benefit of all.

The writer is vice-president of the Malaysian branch of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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