Reform KTM and form Johor Railway Company to lead renewal initiative in Johor
KTM is a primary transport option that is too important to be neglected in Johor. Therefore, we very much regret that the project of relocating the Depot at Kempas Baru and double track project from Gemas to Johor Bahru were either found uncompleted by August 2014 or yet to be started.
In the latest Auditor General Report, it is revealed that the KTM maintenance depot located at Kempas Baru “was not satisfactory because the project was not completed as at August 2014 and behind schedule even after approval for an extension of time”.
Hisniaga Sdn. Bhd. (HSB), which was appointed through limited tender, was supposed to finish the construction in 18 months commencing from 17 January 2012 to 16 July 2013. Yet, it was not completed as at August 2014.
This is not the only delay of a KTM project in Johor. The construction of double track from Gemas to Johor Bahru hasn’t even started although the land acquisition issue had been settled much earlier. While the Ipoh – Padang Besar double track construction is already completed, the Gemas – Johor Bahru line will be the last missing link that makes our peninsular west coast railway under-utilised.
Ministry of Transport should place this project at the topmost priority in considering the huge economic and social benefits that can be generated when an efficient rail transport is established. Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Finance must take immediately action to reform KTM starting with replacing its current top management.
Meanwhile, it is timely for the Johor State Government to examine its position and the model of the regional transportation planning. It’s known that railway transport could be the main option within Johor and between Johor Bahru and Singapore.
We hereby propose a regional railway company formed by the Johor State Government to provide better rail service to Johoreans while fully utilising the existing infrastructure owned by KTM.
Federal government should facilitate the setting up of the company as it stands to benefit from receiving toll levy or fees from leasing out its tracks or rail assets to the Johor Railway Company. Johor should lead the change of regional transportation model.
Wong Shu Qi
Lim Eng Guan