PUTRAJAYA, Dec 15 (Bernama) -- The China Railway Communication Co. Ltd(CRC) said it had not received any instructions from the Chinesegovernment to bid again for the RM14.5 billion double-tracking railwayproject on the pretext that the Malaysian government may announce apostponement this Wednesday after the Cabinet meeting.
CRC's vice president Peng Peng said although the Chinese government paidattention and had a lot of concern over the project, CRC was optimistic tofurther expand co-operation between the two governments on railway relatedprojects.
However, he said the double-tracking railway project covering the northand south bound of Peninsular Malaysia was a government to governmentinitiative and CRC was not well-informed of its details.
Meanwhile, the standing deputy general manager Chen Li Quan of ChinaRailway Engineering Transportation (CRET), which is part of CRC'sconsortium, said the civil engineering work on the double-tracking projectshould be decided by the Malaysian government.
"We hope we can have more cooperation in the future once the Malaysiangovernment has made its decision," he told a press conference after thesigning ceremony between the Malaysian government and CRC to purchase 20units of high-powered diesel electric line locomotives from China worthRM220 million.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, who witnessed the signingceremony, said the supposed postponement of the double-tracking projectwould not hinder Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd's (KTMB) increase in freight.
KTMB estimated that its freight revenue would increase by 40 percent in2005 compared with its estimated 2003 freight revenue of RM100 million, hesaid.
Asked to comment on the possible postponement, Chan said: "Let's waitpatiently for the Cabinet meeting this Wednesday".
On Dec 11, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that theCabinet strongly felt that the project be postponed for now, at a timewhen the country is facing a budget deficit and priority be given toprojects already committed to under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Speaking to the Malaysian media in Japan after his bilateral meeting withThai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on the sidelines of the two-dayAsean-Japan Commemorative Meeting, Abdullah had said that the Cabinetwould look at more details on the project and would make a final decisionon the fate of the project at its meeting next Wednesday.
The double-track project which was given out to the Malaysia MiningCorporation Bhd-Gamuda Bhd (MMC-Gamuda) consortium was to be a single mostcostly project ever carried out by the country but it was not a projectunder the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
It ran into a major controversy recently after Chinese Railway EngineeringCorp (CREC) of China and Ircon International Ltd of India, which wereoriginally given a letter of intent to undertake the work, lost out toMMC-Gamuda which had submitted a lower counterbid.
Meanwhile, Chan said the procurement of the 20 units was to enhance theexpansion of KTMB's freight business particularly in heavy haul train andcross border services and to complement the recently launched GeneralElectric (GE) made locomotives called "Blue Tiger".
This, he said would increase the number of high powered locomotives forKTMB's requirement from 20 to 40.
"All the 20 locomotives would be fully operational by August 2005 afterbeing implemented two stages. 10 units will come between April and June2005, and another 10 between June and August 2005," he said.
The contract for the purchase of the locomotives from CRC was on acounter-trade basis whereby payment would be made in the form of palm oilsupplies equivalent to 110,000 tonnes of local palm oil to be exported toChina.
He said KTMB would continue to spend RM22 million annually on maintainenceand upgrading works on the existing railway tracks.