By Ken Vin Lek
KUALA LUMPUR: The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) must come up with a masterplan before it starts awarding contracts for a mass rapid transport (MRT) system, said PJ Utara MP Tony Pua.
“It is imperative for SPAD to first design and develop the public transport masterplan for the Klang Valley (and other cities) after consultation with state governments, stakeholders and public transport experts to ensure an integrated plan is in place,” he said.
“The SPAD, formed in June 2008, is still unable to proceed with the urgent task of revamping, restructuring and regulating the public transport system due to legislative issues,” added Pua.
He said that the SPAD has been left in the cold in the development of Malaysia’s biggest public transport investment, while Gamuda Bhd’s "unsolicited" proposal is making significant headway with the Prime Minister’s Department .
"Its officials issued a face-saving statement that they will study the MRT proposals and incorporate them, if possible, into its own public transport masterplan for the Klang Valley.
“What is most damaging for SPAD, however, is the separate and independent announcement made by the government on the proposed MRT system for Klang Valley,” said Pua.
“While SPAD has been given a vital role to co-ordinate, integrate and regulate all public transport systems, it was left completely in the cold in the development of Malaysia’s biggest public transport investment, estimated at RM50 billion over the next decade,” he added.
All systems go for Gamuda
In a report released by OSK Research, it said that the Gamuda management, along with its joint-venture partner MMC Corp Bhd, felt that they had an 80%-85% chance of winning the job, and that work could commence as early as 2011.
“So confident are they at winning the project that an AmResearch report showed evidence that Gamuda has already commenced soil investigation and survey works to prepare the groundwork for the project.
“In addition, Gamuda has already submitted a legal opinion to the Attorney-General’s office to amend existing legislation to expedite land acquisition,” said Pua.
“Gamuda’s management also revealed that the funding for the project would likely be backed by the federal government under a deferred payment scheme that may take between 10 and 30 years, implying AAA-rating for any papers to be issued," he added.
Pua drew similarities between this project and the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project. He said the government, in its “eagerness” to award the MRT contract to Gamuda-MMC, public interest had taken a back seat.
He criticised the government for rushing headlong into the MRT project as it did in the 1990s when it privatised the public transport system, like the Light Rail Transport (LRT), monorail and the consolidation of private and public bus companies.
“The result in the 1990s was disastrous financially to the government as it had to bail out all of these companies to the tune of nearly RM9 billion, as well as for the complete lack of integration between the different rail lines and bus operations,” he said.
“While Gamuda may have considered integrating its MRT lines to the existing LRT networks, are they going to be integrated based on optimal public transport connectivity or are they going to be integrated based on Gamuda’s own commercial considerations?
“These are questions which only SPAD can resolve,” said Pua.