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PETALING JAYA: After a nearly three-year wait, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) stretch that passes through Selangor – from Gombak to Port Klang – will start in the first quarter of this year.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said he approved work on this stretch to start after the Selangor government agreed to allow the ECRL to run from Gombak to Serendah, Puncak Alam and Port Klang.

This portion, known as Section C2, is part of the longer 170km Section C that runs from Mentakab, Pahang.

“As the Transport Minister, I app-roved the Railway Scheme for Section C2 of the ECRL on Jan 12, which allows work on this stretch to commence in the first quarter of this year,” he said after visiting an ECRL site near Genting Highlands yesterday.

“This approval is based on sessions to obtain public feedback in the last quarter of 2021, reports on environmental impact assessment, social impact assessment and heritage impact assessment.”

From the public inspection conducted from September to November last year, a total of 12,797 respondents gave their feedback, with 98.87% of them giving the thumbs up to the northern alignment of Section C, which passes through Bentong, Pahang, and Gombak.

The alignment proposed by Bari-san Nasional suffered a setback following the 14th General Election in May 2018, when the Pakatan Harapan government came into power and counter-proposed a southern alignment that passed through Negri Sembilan to emerge at Putrajaya before terminating at Pulau Indah (home of Westports).

The events in February 2020 that led to the fall of Pakatan allowed the project proponent to revisit the northern alignment, with the Transport Ministry under Dr Wee’s leadership having an extensive dialogue with the Selangor government, which remains under Pakatan.

“Selangor notified us of their approval last December. We are thankful for it as this will detail reviews needed for this project awarded based on engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC, also known as turnkey) when the original ECRL alignment was revealed in August 2017,” said Dr Wee.

Last month, the ECRL hit a completion milestone of 26.49% which was driven by progress in Sections A (Kota Baru to Dungun, Terengganu) and B (Dungun to Mentakab).

The ECRL project will realise the aspirations of many folk in Pahang, particularly those in Bentong who rely on road transport other than the limited KTMB services routed far south via Gemas in Negri Sembilan, said former Bentong MP Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai.

“After so many struggles, twists and turns, we can finally see that the portion through Bentong remains intact. This is a moment I’ve been eagerly awaiting.

“We were supposed to launch the tunnel boring machines in November 2018. It has been delayed for far too long,” said Liow during the ECRL site visit yesterday.

“I am happy for the people in Bentong as the rail line will boost the economic growth of the East Coast area tremendously.”

Source: The Star, MENG YEW CHOONG/January 14, 2022

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