Malaysia Still In Talks With China To Cut East Coast Rail Link Project Cost- Mahathir

© Nikkei Markets

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 25) — Malaysia is still in talks with China to reduce the construction cost of the suspended East Coast Rail Link, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday.

“If the price is right, then we’ll continue. Right now we have not agreed on the price,” he said at a news conference after launching a manufacturing plant in Selangor.

“Our hope is to spend less money,” said Mahathir.

Under current contract terms including interests on a 30-year loan from China, Malaysia would be spending up to 140 billion ringgit ($34.4 billion) on the project.

“We’ll be saddled with interests. We cannot afford that. Therefore, we’re trying to reduce cost or we may have to postpone.”

– By Gan Pei Ling
– Edited By Abhrajit Gangopadhyay

Malaysia Renews Pact With MASwings For Rural Sabah, Sarawak Flights Until 2024

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 04) — Malaysia’s federal government renewed a contract with MASwings, a regional airline operating rural air services, for six years to 2024, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, said Friday.

“The contract is renewed to provide rural flights in Sabah and Sarawak,” Loke said at a news conference in Putrajaya. “The government also budgeted 190 million ringgit ($45.88 million) a year to subsidize the flights.”

According to media reports, MASwings had earlier announced it will cease operations on eight domestic routes in Sabah and Sarawak, effective Jan. 1, 2019 following the finance ministry’s decision to cut funding under new Public Service Obligation agreement.

Now the number of subsidized routes has been cut to 39 from 49, Loke added.

Loke also said penalty will be imposed on MASwings if its services are not up to par.

Meanwhile, the ministry also inked a pact with AirAsia to operate two exclusive routes in Sabah and Sarawak: Kota Kinabalu-Sibu and Kota Kinabalu-Bintulu.

Separately, Loke said the ministry paid 23 million ringgit as compensation to 961 former staff of the disbanded Land Public Transport Commission and has helped 70%-to-80% of those to secure job offers from government agencies and state-linked companies.

– By Gan Pei Ling
– Edited by Sayantika Bhowal

Malaysia Airports Holdings To Spend MYR150 Mln On Infrastructure Development In 2018-2020-Official

© Nikkei Markets

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 20) — Malaysia Airports Holdings plans to spend 150 million ringgit ($35.8 million) in infrastructure development between 2018 and 2020, a senior company official said Thursday.

While the state-backed airport operator will spend about 39 million ringgit-to- 40 million ringgit for Subang Aerotech Park in Selangor, the remainder will be used to develop KLIA Aeropolis including the Digital Free Trade Zone, General Manager Randhill Singh told reporters. 

The company, which has already spent 60 million ringgit, is funding the expenditure through own cash, he added. 

– By Gan Pei Ling
– Edited By Abhrajit Gangopadhyay

Malaysia’s Works Ministry Lacks Funds To Maintain Federal Roads-Minister Bian

© Nikkei Markets

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 09) — Malaysia’s works ministry lacks funds to maintain the federal roads as budget allocations typically sharply lagged requirements, the minister said Tuesday.

The lack of funds have resulted in a 30% backlog of the maintenance work, Baru Bian said at an investor conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“Every year we get less than 50% of the budget we need,” Bian said. While the annual budget requirement is 2 billion ringgit, allocated sums have ranged between 600 million ringgit and 800 million ringgit, Bian said.

He said the funds are needed to maintain 19,950 km of federal roads and highways.

– By Gan Pei Ling
– Edited By Abhrajit Gangopadhyay

Going for safer roads and steady loads

by GAN PEI LING © The Star 29 April 2017

BENTONG: The Government will go all out to promote a safety culture among heavy vehicle operators, including express buses and lorries, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“We’ve completed the Express Bus Transformation Lab on April 7 and will present the lab results to the Cabinet in a week or so.

“The Cabinet will be briefed on the mitigation efforts to ensure we’ll be able to reduce the impact of express bus accidents,” Liow said after visiting the Bentong Gallery yesterday.

The bus lab was set up in January to study ways to improve the quality of service, safety and sustainability of the bus industry by gathering opinions from all stakeholders, including the public.

Liow said the lab was set up in response to a deadly bus crash in Pagoh in December last year which claimed 14 lives and injured 16, and the Genting bus crash in July last year which killed the driver and injured 15 passengers.

“One of the reasons we found is fatigue of bus drivers who often work long hours for five days without sufficient rest.

“We need to be able to better monitor driver performance, including lorry drivers, to ensure they perform up to the standards required of them,” he said.

He said the Transport Ministry was also in the midst of implementing 51 recommendations by a special panel led by safety advocate Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye after the deadly bus crashes last year.

The recommendations include installing a speedometer on express buses to limit their speed and a speed retarder on lorries to reduce the impact should they get into accidents.

“I’ve set up a special review committee to ensure these recommendations are implemented effectively,” Liow added.

When asked if the Government would consider setting up a similar laboratory for lorries, Liow said the challenges faced by the lorry fraternity was different.

“Not at the moment. I think we’ve enough measures and laws to regulate lorry drivers,” he said.

He attributed the main cause of accidents involving lorries to illegal retread tyres and their debris on highways.

“We’ll monitor the production of retread tyres to ensure they adhere to Sirim standards. Stern action will be taken against factories which do not adhere to the standards,” he said.

On top of that, he said the Government would actively conduct health checks on lorry drivers to ensure they were healthy and not on drugs.

“Enforcement alone is not enough. We need public awareness and participation. Every individual needs to be alert and take precautionary measures to prevent accidents,” he said.

Liow, the MP for Bentong, also attended the groundbreaking ceremony of a new hall for the Leong Guang Cemetery here.

Also present were Pahang MCA chairman Datuk Hoh Khai Mun and Bentong Chinese Town Hall president Datuk Low Long Yang.

He also visited and gave donations to victims of a Wednesday fire that affected four homes in Taman Desa Damai.

Danger of retreaded tyres

by GAN PEI LING © The Star 17 April 2017

PETALING JAYA: Illegally retreaded tyres are putting the lives of road users at stake, so much so that even transport and tyre associations have called for a clampdown on shady retreaders.

An average of two accidents happen daily due to tyre combustion or tyre debris on the road. PLUS Malaysia Bhd recorded 613 road accidents last year on the expressway due to these factors.

Heavy vehicles tend to go for retreaded tyres for the obvious reason.

“A retreaded tyre is usually 50% cheaper than a new tyre,” said Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali.

Stressing that his members would not buy uncertified retreaded tyres, he said the low quality of some of these illegally tyres could cause them to explode while the vehicle was moving.

These tyres might burst due to overloading, casing, or that the rubber and the glue used on the tyres were below par.

“The tyre is the only contact point between the road and the vehicle. So, it must be able to withstand the heat, the high speed the vehicle is travelling in and the load of the vehicle,” he said.

As such, he said, express buses on long journeys would be fitted with new tyres while normal buses that travel short distances would be installed with retreaded tyres at the back wheel.

Such tyres must come only from certified manufacturers, he said, adding that a tyre should ideally be retreaded only once.

Mohamad Ashfar urged the authorities to crack down harder on illegally retreaded tyre manufacturers.

Pan Malaysia Lorry Owners Association president Jong Foh Jit acknowledged that it was common for lorries to use retreaded tyres as they were cheaper.

“But they must ensure the tyres are certified by Sirim,” he said.

“Some people are tempted to go for cheaper, illegally retreaded tyres due to the economic slowdown, but they may endanger themselves and other road users,” he added.

Jong said some lorry operators would retread a tyre two to three times.

Tyre Retreading Manufacturers Association of Malaysia said it was high time the authorities clamped down on unscrupulous tyre retreaders.

The move would force retreaders to get the Sirim certification and start complying with government standards, association president Chin Hong Meng said.

“We have been encouraging them to get Sirim’s MS224 certification since 2007. That’s 10 years ago! We’ve already given them ample time. It is high time that enforcement was carried out,” he said.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai slammed illegal manufacturers, saying that many fatal accidents were caused by retreaded tyres that did not meet standards.