A single agency should ideally be formed to undertake all transport planning as there needs to be a clear separation between planners, regulators and operators, according to a transport analyst.
The agency should undertake the planning for air and seaports, railways, highways and urban transit for all modes of transport, including in Sabah and Sarawak, so that they would be more coordinated, integrated and operate in a seamless manner, managing director of MDS Consultancy Group, Dr Rosli Azad Khan said.
“The government must not delegate this important planning function to businessmen or politicians,” FMT quoted him as saying.
“At the moment, so many proposals are put forward by business people and they use political connections to influence the government. This is not the right approach to plan for our long-term transport infrastructure, which is why we are so dysfunctional and in the mess we are in today.”
Rosli noted that various ministries and agencies are involved in matters to do with land, sea and air transport. The number of agencies had hampered long-term planning efforts in the sector, adding that the current setup was “very confusing”.
He said the roles of the government as a regulator and transport operator had not been clearly defined, especially for entities under the finance ministry.
These companies include Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad, MRT Corp, MyHSR (High Speed Rail), and the Malaysia Rail Link which is now building the East Coast Rail Link. The ministry also owns Prasarana, which runs the LRT, Monorail, RapidKL and Rapid bus services.
“Are they formed to undertake public services as a non-profit organisation? Or are they allowed to report losses year in, year out, without any ramifications? Why are their project expenditures put in the off-budget category and not presented in Parliament?” he asked.
“Their current structure and their method of spending is open to abuse and off-budget borrowing and expenditure. This must be stopped immediately.”
Rosli also stated that the ECRL, which he said was not needed by the three East Coast states, had become a priority at the expense of building better roads in Sabah or a rail link between Sabah and Sarawak.
The 665km ECRL network, which includes 59 tunnels, is estimated to cost RM50.27 billion and is expected to be operational by January 2027. It will go through Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor.
He said the ECRL could be built at lower than the current price, based on an analysis of the cost of building a single-track railway in various countries with similar terrain. “A large chunk of that cost went somewhere else, not to the project.
“Therefore, as long as these sorts of practices are not stopped, our country will continue to suffer. The biggest losers are the taxpayers and the public.”