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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        7  February 2011

Rail project in Malaysia advances

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More private and public-listed companies (PLCs) could submit their proposals to the Transport Ministry this year for the development of inter-city rail transit network in Iskandar Malaysia, said a senior official with the State Economic Planning Unit (Upen).

This is following an announcement by Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) and KUB Malaysia Bhd recently that they had proposed to develop and operate the RM1.23bil project on a joint-venture basis.

Masteel and KUB told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur that the project, consisting up to 25 commuter stations, was expected to be completed not later than end of 2013.

"We at Upen were quite surprised when reading the news that the two companies have agreed to form a joint-venture company to bid for the project,'' the official, who declined to be named, said.

When asked whether Upen had received any proposal other than from the two companies, he said the project was being handled by the federal government.

He said other bidders likely to submit their proposals include PLCs and non-PLCs involved in infrastructure, engineering and construction activities.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, a RM2.8bil allocation has been made for the Urban Public Transport National Key Result Area to increase ridership in Greater Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru in the first two years of the plan.

Meanwhile, property developers in Johor Baru have welcomed the project, which they described as long overdue.

Country View Bhd marketing manager Andrew Tan said the network would improve connectivity within the economic corridor and help boost property demand.

"Better connectivity will improve the economy in general and will create spillover not only for the property sector but also other segments including retail, education, health and tourism,'' he said.

Tan said Nusajaya would benefit the most as a big portion of its land area was still in green field category.

Nusajaya is one of five flagship development zones in the 2,217 sq km Iskandar Malaysia, the country's first economic corridor in the southernmost part of Johor.

He said apart from being the state's new administrative centre with the Kota Iskandar Complex, there were several projects in Nusajaya by the private sector which would be completed in two years.

These include Asia's first Legoland Theme Park, Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour, Newcastle University of Medicine Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Marlborough College Malaysia and Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studio.

"While the rail system is still in its planning stage, we can expect many developers, including those from outside Johor, to come to Iskandar Malaysia,'' said Tan.

Country View is developing the 121.40ha Nusa Sentral in Nusajaya which will keep the company busy for eight years.

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