Foreign contractors hired for ECRL due to local experts shortage


Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 30, 2017: The main contractor of the East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) project from China had to hire foreign companies to do soil testing works because of tight deadline and shortage of local experts.

Malaysian Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) today disclosed that its partner in the project, China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) had done its best to source local contractors to do the drilling and soil investigation works.

MRL chief executive officer Darwis Abdul Razak in a statement to The Mole today said CCCC has sourced 54 drilling rigs from local soil investigation contractors to complete the work.

He said those were the only drilling rigs locally available for job.

“CCCC has been tasked to complete soil investigation work along a 600 kilometres corridor prior to the targeted commencement of construction in third quarter of 2017.

“To complete this soil investigation work, CCCC has to drill 3,700 boreholes within eight months’ time which requires 120 drilling rigs to be mobilized,” wrote Darwis. 

The clarification was in response to accusations by local contractors that CCCC had purposely tried to discourage them from participating in the mega project by imposing impossible qualifying conditions and playing favourites to Chinese contractors.

Darwis stressed that CCCC had no choice but to hire foreign companies to do the soil investigation works in order to complete it on time.

“MRL believe this is a capacity issue and the shortage is due to the fact that many other construction projects are ongoing throughout the country, including other mega projects undertaken by the government,” Darwis explained.

Several local soil investigation contractors who talked to The Mole today however, were sceptical of CCCC’s explanation to MRL.

One of the contractors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, asked whether CCCC could give MRL an official list of the local companies that CCCC has directly hired to work on the 54 drilling rigs. 

“If what CCCC said is true, then why did some of us are still getting job offers from Chinese contractors to work on the project?

“The crux of the matter is that, CCCC did not keep their end of the bargain. They could have slow-talked to the government and requested for the deadline to be extended so that they can hire local experts like they promised,” he added.

Another local contractor argued that it is simply impossible to begin the construction of the entire 600km stretch of electrified railway by the third quarter of this year.

“I was made to understand that ECRL is currently in its design phase…so, basically, did CCCC tell MRL that they can complete the construction designs within eight months?” another local contractor rhetorically asked.

“Unless CCCC is talking about the 4.5km stretch that will be used for the ECRL’s ground-breaking ceremony…if it is just that one, then I think it is doable.

“To be clear, I think both CCCC and MRL have to disclose ECRL’s Gantt chart. That way we can really know the exact duration for all the development phases of ECRL,” he added.

A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule including the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of a project.

Scheduled to be completed in June 2024, the ECRL will link the Greater Klang Valley to Kelantan, Terrengganu and Pahang.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]