Only 30% of ERCL workers will be foreigners, says project owner

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 5): Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the owner of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project, says only 30% of the total workers involved in the RM60 billion project will be foreigners from China and other Asian countries, allaying concerns that the project is mostly run by the Chinese.

The remaining 70% will be locals.

MRL was commenting on reports on Tuesday quoting Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying that the developer of ECRL had applied to Putrajaya to hire Chinese nationals for the project due to 'language accessibility'.

In a statement today, MRL said at present, the project has hired 1,718 people for the construction works, of which only 311 or 18% are from China.

MRL said local hiring efforts are being undertaken to meet the needs of the construction workforce, where over 2,000 applicants have been interviewed throughout the month of March alone, in four series of open interviews conducted in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the Klang Valley.

It added that main contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) is spending RM23 million to run a training programme called East Coast Rail Line Industrial Skills Training Programme (PLKI-ECRL) as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

PLKI-ECRL is a joint venture between MRL, CCCC and Universiti Malaysia Pahang to train and absorb Malaysians who successfully complete the training into employment in the ECRL project.

"The programme, which began in September 2017, saw 185 trainees complete their training in January and February and has held various positions at MRL and CCCC. A total of 244 trainees are currently undergoing this training programme and will complete training by the end of April," said MRL.

"Of the total 2,000 in March, 115 applicants have been selected to participate in the PLKI-ECRL, while other successful applicants will be offered employment by CCCC or ECRL subcontractors," it added.

MRL expects a total of 80,000 direct and indirect job opportunities will be offered during the course of the ECRL construction period.

MRL also said the main contractors of ECRL have committed to continue to prioritise the use of building materials supplied by local companies.

"However, special machines and equipments such as the tunnel boring machines need to be brought in from China and run by experts for the construction of tunnels in certain locations. The PLKI-ECRL programme will offer training to the local workers to handle the machinery brought in from China," it said.

As of February 2018, a total of 215 local companies have been involved in the construction of the ECRL project, comprising of 26 consultants, 99 domestic suppliers and 90 local contractors, MRL said.