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Comments on Delay to LRT Project

The quiet announcement of the delay to the LRT construction project is getting more attention.  To summarize the article from the Malay Mail (which was also posted here on our website):

  • Prasarana CEO Shaipudin Shah Harun resigned in September, 2008, just before Prasarana was to announce the Consultant Engineer for the project.
  • The LRT project currently has no Consultant Engineer
  • Prasarana will be conducting public consultation between February and May to get feedback on their plan
  • If the project starts in mid-2009 it can only be completed by 2013 at the earliest.
  • The project is unlikely to start until late 2009

The letter below was written by TRANSIT Advisor Moaz Yusuf Ahmad regarding the recently announced delay to the LRT project due to administrative problems in the Civil Service and at Prasarana.

The letter was posted at blogs such as Malaysia Today, Penang WatchTony Pua,  and more. An article discussing this issue in depth was posted on Malaysiakini last week.

As always, TRANSIT encourages comments and feedback from the public.


LRT delay to 2013 (at least) is not a surprise

The quiet announcement of the delay of the opening of the LRT extension to at least 2013 probably did not come as a surprise to many Malaysians. After all, the LRT extensions have been promised, promised, and promised again. Malaysians keep on believing these promises hoping that things are going to happen because of the confident announcements coming from the cabinet and the Prime Minister’s office.

One has to wonder if the recent switch of the Defense and Finance portfolios may have something to do with the delays. When Dato’ Seri Abdullah became Prime Minister he reviewed many of the projects initiated by Tun Dr. Mahathir and shelved some of them (such as the double tracking and electrification). Would it be much of a surprise if Dato Seri Najib wants to do a similar review?

There are also many mixed messages and “behind-the-scenes” events that make it clear that Prasarana, the National Infrastructure Company, will not be able to complete the LRT until 2013 (if not later).

Prasarana’s former CEO, Shaipudin Shah Harun, resigned suddenly on September 19, 2008 – the day after attending the National Summit on Urban Public Transport and talking about plans for the extensions of the LRT.

The Finance Ministry has announced that there is a plan to integrate Prasarana and RapidKL into a single company – but the Land Public Transport Commission may change things even more after it is created.

On the ground, it has been reported that contractors are conducting soil tests in Subang Jaya – but Prasarana has not appointed a primary consultant engineer or finalized their proposal for the LRT extensions.

Even more interesting are these points. It is almost funny to hear that Prasarana is unsure that it can secure the RM5billion in funding for the LRT extension. Remember that Prasarana is owned 100% by the Finance Ministry. How can it be that a company owned by the Treasury of Malaysia cannot secure RM5 billion in funding for an LRT project?

Also, if the government is planning on the extension, why is a consultant engaged by Prasarana asking to arrange a meeting with residents of Subang Jaya and USJ to share ideas for an integrated public transport network? Do they have a plan or not? And if they have a plan, why was it not public and open for discussion a long time ago?

Prasarana once conducted a survey of households in the Klang Valley to determine their preferred uses and modes of transportation but they have not made the results of this survey public or engaged in any public discussion about the way people use public transport and other modes. They have not prepared or explored any alternatives beyond LRT extensions to show that the benefits of the proposed LRT extensions will justify the massive costs of construction.

They have provided no clear information to show that the proposed extensions are absolutely vital to suburban communities like Subang Jaya and USJ and Putra Heights. They have not examined any other corridors though it is known that urban Kuala Lumpur is in desperate need for at least 5 more lines.

Finally, they did not even have the courtesy to send a representative to a dialogue initiated by the ADUN of Subang Jaya last year.

This dismal “track record” (pardon the pun) makes it clear that there is a long way to go to improve public transport in Malaysia. It also makes it clear that the public should not easily accept and not question plans or promises from the government. If we really want to see improvements to public transport then we must have open public discussion, public consultation … and active public participation.

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
klangvalley.transit (at) gmail (dot) com

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