Work as usual at MRT2 despite project being under scrutiny

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 12): The employees of MMC-Gamuda KVMRT are keeping a positive spirit and working as usual on the underground portion of the Mass Rapid Transit 2 (MRT2) which has been the subject of a cost rationalisation exercise by the Government.

Muadh Mohd Nazlee, one of the project engineers, said for now, all of them ignored any rumours on the project and decided to continue working as usual until further announcements.

“Whatever is the outcome, we still need to deliver and do our best,” he told Bernama.

Muadh said the workers, including the Tunnelling Training Academy (TTA) personnel, were relieved by Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement that the Cabinet would re-look the decision to re-tender the unfinished underground portion of the project and set up of a committee to re-examine the contract.

On Oct 7, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Cabinet had decided to terminate the MMC-Gamuda contract to build the underground portion of the MRT2 project, adding that all unfinished underground work would re-tendered via an open tender.

He said the MRT2 project was expected to save RM5.22 billion or 23 per cent of the original cost for the above ground portion of the project, following the open tender exercise.

However, MMC-Gamuda said almost 20,000 employees from a supply chain of more than 600 Malaysian companies would lose their jobs following the termination of the contract.

In his response, Lim gave an assurance that the MRT2 underground contract would continue, but it would be awarded through an open tender at a reduced cost.

Muadh said the workers lauded the Government’s decision and hoped for the best for every parties involved and wished MMC-Gamuda would remain as the main contractor.

“We are hoping that our management can give their best offer, and both parties can achieve a win-win situation. In short, all of us here are still hopeful and crossing our fingers that things can be renegotiated,” he said.

Meanwhile, four Ministers, including Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, who were said to be members of the committee, would revisit the MRT2 underground contract.

Azmin had said that the committee would start re-examining the contract soon "because we don't intend to hold the project" and want to make a decision "as soon as possible".

He also gave an assurance that the discussions would take into consideration the Government's desire to protect the workers involved.

In the midst of the decision, MMC-Gamuda has pledged to adopt an “open book approach” if fresh negotiations were to be held.

It was made to understand that 70 per cent of the workforce, especially highly and medium-skilled workers were locals, of whom 60 per cent were Bumiputeras.

Not only the workers will be affected if the contract were to turn sideways, but those under the MMC-Gamuda’s TTA programme will also be in limbo.

The TTA, launched in December 2011 by Dr Mahathir, was set up to exclusively meet the need for tunnelling skills and expertise for the MRT project currently being implemented by the government in the Klang Valley.

The academy, which enrols trainees from secondary school leavers to degree holders, is the world’s first training school designed to specifically produce skilled manpower for the tunnelling industry, in line with the government’s aspirations to transform Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.

The academy trains the local workforce in the highly specialised field of tunnel construction and provides a number of specialists to support the roll-out of the MRT project.

Among the specialised tunnelling projects that have been conducted by Gamuda were the SPRINT Expressway, SMART Tunnel, Electrified Double Track Railway Project, and Kaohsiung MRT (Taiwan).