JOHOR BARU: More private and public-listed companies (PLCs) could possibly 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, told StarBiz.
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 southern-most 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.
KSL Holdings Bhd executive director Ku Hwa Seng said while the rail system would be good for Iskandar Malaysia in the long term, proper planning was needed to ensure that it would work.
He said one way of doing that was to integrate the system with the public bus and feeder bus services in the area.
Ku said the locations of the bus stops must be within walking distance to the commuter stations.
“The system will only be successful if it interconnects with Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) due to the high movement of human traffic between Johor Baru and Singapore every day,'' he said.
Ku said apart from reducing traffic congestion at the Causeway, the link with Singapore's MRT would also help bring in more Singaporeans to Johor Baru, hence boosting the local economy.
SP Setia Bhd deputy president and chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow did not foresee major problems in implementing the rail project in Iskandar Malaysia.
He said unlike the Klang Valley which had many established housing areas and mature townships, planning would be easier in the economic corridor where the system could be planned to cut through housing areas as little as possible.
“While improving public transport system and connectivity in Iskandar Malaysia is lauded, the region must continue to attract new investments to ensure its sustainability,'' said Voon.
Source: The Star 7 Feb 2011