TRANSIT is not too surprised to hear the latest news on the award of 40km tramway project to SAAG Consolidated. The local oil and gas player, which we doubt has any experience in transit projects (let alone trams), has its share price almost doubled in a week preceding the bid award.
TRANSIT Says: After RM16 million of taxpayers’ money wasted on a monorail system that went kaput during its launch and slept straight into comma (till this very day), the state government chooses to splurge 15 times more money to build a transit system without any public transport masterplan, without transit – land use integration planning, and most importantly, without any public consultation.
KUALA LUMPUR: SAAG Consolidated (M) Bhd’s subsidiary has secured a US$78 million (RM239.54 million) contract from Mrails Tram (Melaka) Sdn Bhd to design and build 40 km of tramway in Melaka.
SAAG said on Monday, Jan 10 its overseas subsidiary OGS Asiapac Ltd had secured the design, engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract on Dec 23 last year.
Mrails Tram is incorporated in Malaysia and it had signed a principal agreement with the Chief Minister of Malacca (Incorporation) on March 3 last year for a 25 year concession with the Malacca government to provide 40 km of tramway in the state capital to enhance the public transport facilities.
We wonder what kind of a tram system that can be built with a mere RM6 million per km? Even the ‘bare-bone’ TransJakarta BRT system with 8,000 pax/direction/hour capacity was built at around RM4 million per km, and the world-renown metro-like Transmillenio BRT system with more than 50,000 pax/direction/hour capacity at RM20 million per km. Like we’ve said before, this tramway project announcement is a complete sham.
We know tram systems with moving block signaling and right of ways can achieve maximum capacity of 25,000 pax/direction/hour, but they costs more than RM100 million per km. Even the cheapest mode of Light Rail Transit (tram with at grade tracks and operating on shared infrastructure with cars) costs more than RM50 million per km.
Why the government refuses to secure enough public transport funds to establish an organizing authority, say the Melaka Public Tranport Authority, and award contracts to existing and external operators to operate based on a fair, transparent and accountable set of criteria and incentives.
Rather than taking ownership of what is within the state’s hands to improve public transport, the government yet chose to repeat the same mistake it has done with the monorail (and give concession to companies with no track record, and risk jeopardizing the public’s interests in the long run in return for quick and short run profits to private entities), and railroads its way to nowhere.