TRANSIT took note of this article in Free Malaysia Today which argues that, while the first of the new KTM Komuter trains is soon to arrive on our shores (some say it has already arrived, but we have yet to see any photos), the question of the tender for these new trains (and other issues at KTMB) needs to be explored in greater depth by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
EMU train ready, MACC still lingering
Stephanie Sta Maria | July 18, 2011
China will deliver the first EMU train to Malaysia in September even though MACC has yet to complete investigations into the supposed lopsided purchase.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will receive the first of 38 six-coach Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains from China in September despite an ongoing investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) into the deal.
Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha announced today that six more units will be delivered in December and the rest by June 2012.
“All the trains will be fully operational within the next year,” he said at a media conference after launching the 3rd World Chinese Economic Forum. “I visited China early this year to witness the roll-out of the first EMU.”
“I thought that Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad’s (KTMB) purchase of the 38 units at RM1.89 million was a big deal but when I visited the factory I realised that it was producing 1,000 trains a year. So Malaysia’s purchase is actually a small one.”
The EMU contract was awarded to CSR Zhuzhuo Electric Locomotive Co Ltd of China last May and signed in June. But in August the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommended an investigation into the allegedly lopsided purchase.
The Transport Ministry nevertheless went ahead with the purchase and argued that the letter of award was given to Zhuzhuo before MACC initiated its investigations.
Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad told Parliament last October that EMUs could cost the ministry RM500 million extra for the whole deal as there were loopholes in the agreement with Zhuzhou.
He revealed that Zhuzhou was demanding extra charges for the automatic train protection (ATP) system and that the agreement didn’t include a maintenance, repair and overhaul package.
[TRANSIT: Anyone want to guess which company will receive the contract for the ATP system and the MRO package?]
Kong however glossed over these details by playing up the EMUs’ benefits to the country’s existing public transportation system.
“Once all the 38 trains are operational, the waiting time in between trains will be reduced from 30 minutes to 10 minutes,” he declared. “This will greatly improve the efficiency of commuting.”
[TRANSIT: That’s basically how it works … allow the system to fall apart to such levels that the public will be begging you to do anything to solve the problem, even if it means lopsided contracts and questionable deals.]
No news from MACC
When contacted, Dzulkefly told FMT that he had not received any word from the MACC regarding the investigations since last year.
“At the time MACC said it couldn’t release any details as investigations were still ongoing,” he said. “But I think its time is up and we need to be enlightened on its findings.”
The MACC officer reportedly in charge of the case however refused to divulge any details on the status of investigations and merely said: “I will not make any comments on this issue.”
Meanwhile Kong also acknowleged that the country’s transportation system is still far from meeting world-class standards but added that the ministry was making every effort to change that.
“We’re in the midst of upgrading 10 commuter train stations to include facilities for the disabled and studying plans to add 7,000 additional parking bays at selected commuter and LRT strations,” he explained.
“All these plans will be implemented in stages by the end of this year and early next year. Because until public transportation is efficient, convenient, comfortable and affordable, people will not make the switch.”
We wonder how long this will continue for. We wonder how long those in government will continue to act in their own interest rather than the public interest. And we wonder how long it will take before more Wakil Rakyat start to ask the serious questions that we have wanted them to ask for such a long time.
We understand the situation … KTM’s Komuter service is in terrible shape. It is falling apart. Maintenance has been deferred, derailments and accidents are happening, if not regularly then more often than we would like to admit.
Even the Railwaymen’s Union is getting angry. Their protests against the restructuring of KTM are now becoming political, with threats to encourage members to vote strategically in the next election.
NOTE: See our post on this matter tomorrow.
What amazes us is that this 125 year old company, which is truly an icon of Malaysia, is being managed & handled this way.
The government abuses the heritage of KTM and abuses the patience of its customers … and yet we are allowing it to continue.
What makes it worse is that we at TRANSIT have no idea where to start making changes and improving KTM. Should they (the government, we suppose) continue with the restructuring and form KTM into a kumpulan (group) like Prasarana, with ETS, Komuter, Intercity and Freight as subsidiaries rather than divisions? Should they encourage competition for KTM in the intercity or Commuter rail markets? Should they push for Prasarana to take over the KTM Komuter service from, say Sg. Buloh to Kajang, and let KTM run a “commuter” service for points further out? Or should they work to strengthen KTM, buy the proper trains, allow them to keep their assets, and generally improve service?
What should be done with KTM in Malaysia?