Gamuda, Sunway, George Kent vying for KL-Klang BRT
Khairul Khalid 
The long-awaited Kuala Lumpur-Klang Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project is likely to be on and could be fast-tracked before the general election. It is believed that several major construction players are in the running for the project potentially costing up to RM4 bil.

A source says three of the frontrunners for the project, overseen by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), are Gamuda Bhd, Sunway Construction Group Bhd (SunCon) and George Kent (Malaysia) Bhd.

“The project has been delayed for a few years due to financial constraints. But with the election round the corner, the government could green light the project soon,” says the source.

The KL-Klang BRT could be the first major project under Isa’s tenure 

He adds that it will be one of the first major tasks for the newly-appointed SPAD acting chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad.

“Many were puzzled when Isa was moved from Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) to SPAD. But industry players were not entirely surprised,” says the source.

“The KL-Klang BRT might be one of the first big projects under Isa’s watch. Although the total cost of the project has not been officially announced, it could be up to RM4 bil.

“When the project was announced a few years ago, the cost was said to be more than that, but they have decided to scale down the project due to funding problems.”

Responding to FocusM’s queries on the matter, a SPAD spokesman says the commission has finalised its evaluation of the proposals and will be forwarding its recommendations to the government.

“The request for proposals (RFP) exercise closed in May. A total of five proposals were received and the evaluation process has been completed. SPAD will forward its recommendations to the government for further consideration,” says the spokesperson.

However, he declined to reveal the names of the bidders until the government has made its decision.

In January, SPAD initiated a RFP exercise for bids to implement the KL-Klang BRT. The proposed project will span 34km, have 25 stations and feature a dedicated busway along the Federal Highway.

The RFP was open to all bidders registered in the country with experience in transit or infrastructure projects. Its scope includes planning, designing, financing, constructing, operating, maintaining and upgrading the BRT line.

Among other things, SPAD is touting the KL-Klang BRT as a means of providing good connectivity to light rail transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT) and Komuter lines. The BRT will also be linked to other bus services.

‘200 buses needed’
The source also says Prasarana Malaysia Bhd could become the main operator of the BRT.

“The project could use many of the idle buses that Prasarana has in its depots,” says the source, adding that the project could need 200 vehicles.

Prasarana, the country’s largest public transport provider, is the asset owner and operator of two LRT networks (Kelana Jaya and Ampang/Sri Petaling lines), the KL Monorail, Sunway-BRT and bus services in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuantan, and Kamunting in Perak.

Last December, Prasarana under its service brand RapidKL, was appointed as the official operator of the first MRT services in the Klang Valley.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said in April the KL-Klang BRT project would likely take off this year. He expects it to be completed in two years.

The BRT project was approved in 2014 with phase one to have commenced in November 2014 and be completed in April last year. It involved the stretch from Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur to Subang Jaya, before the Batu Tiga toll.

Phase two was to be carried out from June 2015 to December last year and involved the stretch from Batu Tiga to Klang town.

Track record
The three contenders for the KL-BRT project have track records in major infrastructure and transportation projects.

SunCon was the main contractor for the first BRT project called the Sunway BRT Line in Bandar Sunway, where it built the country’s first elevated dedicated bus lane in 2015.

The Sunway BRT stretches for 7km from Setia Jaya to USJ17 Subang Jaya and is jointly managed by Prasarana and the Sunway Group.

Meanwhile, George Kent (M) Bhd won the RM1.1 bil Ampang LRT systems contract in 2012. Subsequently, in 2015, it was appointed as a project delivery partner, together with Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, for the 36km LRT3 from Bandar Utama to Johan Setia in Klang.

In August last year, George Kent won a RM1.01 bil contract for track works, maintenance vehicles and work trains for the 52.2km Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) mass rapid transit (MRT) alignment, also known as MRT2.

This project is a 51:49 joint venture between George Kent and China Communications Construction Co Ltd.

MMC Gamuda KVMRT (a joint venture between MMC Corp Bhd and Gamuda) is the project delivery partner for MRT Line 1 from Sungai Buloh to Kajang, which is scheduled to roll out its second phase this month, and for MRT Line 2 from Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya.

If the BRT project takes off, it will come under extra scrutiny due to the controversy surrounding SPAD’s Isa and his acrimonious exit from FGV.

Last month, prior to his appointment in SPAD, Isa was involved in a bitter battle with FGV group president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad.

Zakaria, together with four others including FGV’s group chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, had been asked to go on leave, pending an internal audit over alleged irregularities over transactions with Dubai-based Safitex Trading LLC.

Isa had said the allegations of misconduct were based on a report by external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers involving late payments and delivery of goods to Safitex.

Internal probe
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stepped in to resolve the conflict and appointed former minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala to oversee an internal investigation.

Subsequently, Isa voluntarily resigned as FGV chairman and Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob was made acting chairman. Immediately after he stepped down from FGV, Isa was named as the acting chairman of SPAD, replacing Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar who had previously announced his retirement.

SPAD is the central authority for the management of all aspects of public transport in the country. The organisation is directly under the purview of the prime minister and is responsible for drawing up public transport policies, plans and regulations covering all aspects of land public transport.

SPAD was established in June 2010, after the Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat Act 2010 was passed by Parliament. The commission gained full authority in January 2011 with the gazetting of the Act.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 241.