KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The main contractor for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) today announced they have signed a supplementary agreement extending their working relationship.
In a statement today, China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd (CCCECRL) said the extension will accommodate environment-friendly initiatives and safeguards to minimise negative impact from the project, which has been delayed from its original timeline.
“The (Northern) alignment was designed to avoid and evade forest areas,” said CCCECRL managing director Kong Qi, referring to the latest positioning of the train tracks.
“By tunnelling through forest areas, we avoid open cutting across forests full of wildlife and damaging the natural habitats of flora and fauna,” he added.
To note, CCCECRL had already pledged over RM9 million to Perhilitan back in 2018 for these initiatives. Back then, the project was scheduled to be completed in 2024.
But after several delays relating to changes in government and the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has taken on several adjustments and is now expected to be completed in 2026.
The statement today did not contain the end date for the extended agreement between CCCECRL and Perhilitan.
However, Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the funds pledged will be used for wildlife mitigation and conflict control, a human-elephant conflict study, public awareness, habitat enrichment and other wildlife management initiatives.
He added that these initiatives will span “across the years of the collaboration period”.
In explaining measures that it has taken to avoid negative environmental impact, CCCCECRL said that the latest ECRL alignment encompasses 58 tunnels — collectively 15.22km long — along with 128km of viaducts and 20 wildlife crossings.
It said that tunnelling and design fine-tunes have reduced the projected forest land loss due to the project by 90 per cent, from an initial forecasted figure of 2,000ha down to 276ha.
The ECRL is set to be 665km long, starting with a station in Kota Baru, Kelantan, and ending with a station in Port Klang, Selangor.