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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
INTRODUCING



The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN is a geo-political and economic organization of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include the acceleration of economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members, the protection of the peace and stability of the region, and to provide opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Burma set for economic resurgence?
By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun,Sasithorn Ongdee
The Nation Published on November 22, 2010



New era of development may be dawning in Burma as Asean Economic Community looms
Burma's military leaders have high hopes that last Sunday's general election, the first in two decades, and the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, will usher in a new period of national development.

For years, the West has boycotted the Burmese junta and imposed economic sanctions in a bid to pressure the Southeast Asian nation to return to a system of democratic governance.

Until recently, the junta did not budge, but resorted to work privately with just a few Asian nations which were more sympathetic to Burma's situation than the West. Yet time for such a strategy appears to be running out and Burma has no better choice than to open its doors wider to the world after decades of isolation.

Regionally, the country could soon take its turn to be chair of the 10-nation Asean, which is advancing to become a powerful economic grouping of nearly 600 million consumers.

Asean groups together Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

The Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will pave the way for a single market with zero import tariffs and easier cross-border investment, will be fully effective in 2015.

In this context, one of Burma's pet mega-projects is to develop a deep-sea port and industrial estate complex in the coastal city of Tavoy (or Dawei).

READ MORE: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2010/11/22/business/Burma-set-for-economic-resurgence-30142865.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Laos, China to cooperate in railway construction
October 06, 2010
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/Free_Laos_China.htm



Mr Liu Zhijun (left) and Mr Sommath Pholsena shake hands after signing an
MOU on railway construction cooperation in Vientiane yesterday.

Minister for Railways of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Liu Kuayue, arrived in Vientiane on October 4 for talks with Lao officials on the construction of a railway from the Chinese border to Vientiane.

The railway development project is part of the Kunming-Singapore rail link, which aims to boost trade relations between Asean countries and China after the two parties implemented the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement earlier this year.

Mr Liu paid a courtesy visit to President Choummaly Sayasone and Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad upon his arrival in Laos.

He also held talks and signed a memorandum of understanding with his Lao counterpart, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommath Pholsena, on cooperation in the construction of the railway from the Lao-Chinese border in Luang Namtha province to Vientiane.

Mr Liu and his delegation also visited the Training Centre of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Thanalaeng train station, Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge and the That Luang stupa.

Lao officials involved in the project told Vientiane Times that Laos and China would establish a joint venture to build the railway.

The Lao government plans to provide land as its share in the venture while the Chinese partner will provide funding for construction of the railway.

The Chinese government has promised to provide financial support for the joint venture to build the 400km railway.

The officials also said Laos and China are now carrying out a survey for the proposed railway, which they hope to complete before the end of this year.

“The survey will give us information about the cost of construction and where the track is to be laid,” a senior official from the Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport told Vientiane Times.

Lao Railway Authority Deputy Director General, Mr Sompong Pholsena, told Vientiane Times earlier the railway would be able to accommodate medium speed electric trains, which can run at about 200km per hour. The highest speed trains can run at 350km per hour, he said.

According to officials from the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, the government has included the railway as one of the large-scale investment projects in its 2011-2015 socio-economic development plan.

The officials said construction would begin within the next five years. However, they were unable to confirm whether the project would be finished within this period of time, saying the decisive factor was funding and cooperation from other Asean countries.

The Chinese government has a clear policy to invest in the construction of an Asean-China railway as a means to boost trade between the two sides. China has said it will cooperate with the Thai government to build the railway.

The Thai government has agreed to cooperate with China to build the railway from the Lao-Thai border in Nong Khai province to Bangkok. However, the Thai government will not be able implement the project until it gets approval from Parliament.

At present Laos’ only railway is a 3.5km track running from the Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge to Thanalaeng station on the outskirts of Vientiane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Johari: ADB to invest RM3.1bil to improve infrastructure
By ZORA CHAN Monday October 4, 2010
http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/10/4/sarawak/7154068&sec=sarawak

LAND and sea connectivity will be improved in the Brunei/Indonesia/Malaysia/Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) between five and 10 years from now.

This is the commitment of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which will invest some US$1bil to improve infrastructure in the region, said Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“ADB realised that the BIMP-EAGA is a potential gold mine. In Sarawak and Kalimantan, ADB is expected to improve land connectivity between these two areas and the cost is quite substantial,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Earlier, Johari performed an earth-breaking ceremony to commence the construction of a concrete bridge project at Kampung Gersik in Kuching to replace the existing bailey bridge. It will be completed in 18 months.

He said the bridge was one of the six bailey bridges along Kampung Seberang Hilir (covering 12 traditional Malay villages along the Sarawak River in the city) that would be replaced in stages as a means to better mitigate traffic in the area.

“The federal government has just approved a big allocation - RM80mil under the 10th Malaysian Plan for us to further develop the area. It will be implemented over two Malaysia Plans.

“Besides replacing the bailey bridges, the road will be upgraded and some villagers will be resettled to a nearby site to ease traffic and population congestion in the area. The new resettlement covers a large area along the main road leading to Tun Salahuddin Bridge and it will be named Darul Hana,” he said.

All of this was meant to make the city a liveable and sustainable place for everyone, he added.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
China plans rail network in SE Asia
TNN, Dec 10, 2010, 09.58am IST
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...SE-Asia/articleshow/7075089.cms#ixzz17oxHVbRP

BEIJING: China will be connected by rail with its neighbours in South East Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Laos, in the next three years.

This will add a new dimension to cooperation among ASEAN+1 countries and also influence India's relationship with them.

The network of rail lines connecting China's Kunming city with Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia , Vietnam and Malaysia is meant to give a boost to the creation of a Free Trade Area in the region.

The announcement was made by Laos deputy prime minister, Somsavat Lengsavad in Beijing on Thursday, who said theconstruction of a railway track connecting China with his country will begin early next year.

The two sides had inked an agreement last January for laying the track. The track may be used to run high-speed trains.

India has been trying to build relationships in South East Asia on the basis of its ability to provide trade opportunities and political support in international forums . But with the rail network enhancing Chinese influence in the region, New Delhi will face a new obstacle . The situation will be particularly difficult in Myanmar, where India and China are in severe competition to expand influence.

"We believe that this project will contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of Laos, as well as to the promotion of economic cooperation between ASEAN and China," Lengsavad said. The purpose is to support "the masterplan for ASEAN connectivity and the implementation of the ASEAN-China free trade area ," he said.

For China, the new network would facilitate expansion of its construction business in South East Asia. Chinese firms are involved in setting up hydropower projects in Laos besides building several infrastructure projects in Vietnam. Bilateral trade between China and Laos grew by more than 50% in 2009 to $752 million.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Indonesia, Japan agree on US$24b infrastructure deal
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/12/11/indonesia-japan-agree-us24b-infrastructure-deal.html

Quote:Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara signed here Friday the Memorandum of Cooperation on the development of the Metropolitan Priority Area, worth ¥2 trillion (US$24 billion).

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witnessed the signing ceremony of a deal that will focus on building infrastructure in Jakarta and its surrounding areas.

Hatta explained that Jakarta and surrounding cities (Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi) would be prioritized because the metropolitan area has been included in the development program of the economic corridor of Sumatra and Java, the biggest industrial area in Asia.

“This area also shows rapid economic growth, but it still needs more infrastructure development,” Hatta said, adding that the development of the areas would be a pilot project for the development of integrated industrial areas that would also be carried out in Medan, Surabaya and Makassar.

The development would include transportation infrastructure such as the construction of a road, electricity generator, airport and seaport, as well as the supply of clean water.

A technical team is to be established to design a master plan for the MPA development, which is expected to complete by the end of 2011. The feasibility study is targeted to complete in 2012 before the project commences in 2013.

“Financing schemes for this project would combine a public-private partnership, foreign direct investment from Japan, a soft loan, as well as support from Indonesia’s and Japan’s private sectors,” Hatta said, adding that the total value for this project had not been determined.

The project would be carried out in two phases, with the first one from this year to 2014 and the second one from 2014 to 2020.

Japan also has agreed to disburse another $99 million loans to Indonesia to support the improvement of investment climate policy, state budget and poverty eradication.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Maehara on Friday signed the exchange of notes on the Development Policy Loan during the bilateral consultation held on the sidelines of the third Bali Democracy Forum (BDF).

Both ministers expressed their common views on the importance of strengthening bilateral economic cooperation based on a “Strategic Partnership for the Prosperous Future” and the frame work of the “Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement”.

“Both of us shared views on economics, investment, infrastructure and financial cooperation as well as a climate mitigation program of the two countries,” Marty said.

Marty also conveyed his appreciation and gratitude for the presence of Maehara at the BDF.

“The presence of Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in this year’s forum, as well as former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in the 2009 BDF are certainly a reflection of the firm commitment between Japan and Indonesia in promoting democratic values as a fundamental standard of social and political interaction of nations in the region.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
China, Myanmar plan high-speed rail link
22 Nov, 2010, 12.55PM IST,IANS
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...-high-speed-rail-link/articleshow/6968880.cms

BEIJING: China and Myanmar will soon hold discussions on a high-speed rail link between the two countries that is expected to boost trade and economic development in the region, a media report said on Monday.

The rail link, covering 1,920 km, will connect China's Kunming city, the capital of Yunnan province, with Myanmar's largest city Yangon.

The talks will begin in about two months, said Wang Mengshu, a rail expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The trains will run at a speed of 170-200 kmph once the link is completed, he added.

Wang, who is also a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, has been involved in high-speed rail projects in China.

A high-speed rail connection between southwestern China and Cambodia is also under discussion, Wang told China Daily in an interview.

An exploratory survey for another route that would link Yunnan and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is under way.

The three new rail connections being discussed, along with another linking China and Vietnam, will form a network that is likely to be completed within 10 years, Wang said.

"The project, which aims to boost cooperation between China and Southeast Asian nations, will greatly enhance the economic development of China's western regions," said Wang.

A national rail plan will see the network extended to 120,000 km by the end of 2020 and to 170,000 km by the end of the 2030, Wang said.

After its completion, 60 per cent of the country's railways will be located in western China.

A spokesman of the railway ministry said a detailed construction plan to link Southeast Asian nations is not yet been finalised, but confirmed that the ministry has set up working groups with these countries.

Piamsak Milintachinda, Thailand's ambassador to China, earlier said that a Chinese ministerial team went to Thailand in August to gauge the investment environment for a high-speed railway, as well as a rail network connecting Thailand, China and other Southeast Asian countries.

A proposed 240-km high-speed railway in Thailand, estimated to cost about $25.6 billion and first such line in that country, will connect Bangkok with Rayong, the industrial base in the east of the country.

Thailand has long intended to upgrade its network and learn from China's experience in "operating a high-speed rail system", the ambassador said.

Chinese experts believe that China has the technical ability to carry out the project, but other considerations may come into play.

"There is no technological barrier to building high-speed railways to Southeast Asian countries but China needs to take profitability into account," said Ji Jialun, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University.

Chinese companies are upgrading technology to keep up with innovation and growth in the high-speed rail industry and are well positioned to benefit from increased interest in high-speed rail routes.

China's high-speed trains have clocked speeds as high as 416.6 kmph, according to Zhao Xiaogang, chairman of the China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp, the largest listed railway equipment maker in China.

"Europe, the US, Russia, India, Brazil and the Middle East are all mulling over plans to develop high-speed railways, indicating a boom in the industry globally," Zhao added.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bullet train to connect Thailand, Laos
Source: Global Times [08:14 December 09 2010]
By Wang Xinyuan
http://business.globaltimes.cn/industries/2010-12/600311.html

China signed a framework agreement Wednesday to build high-speed railways connecting to Laos and Thailand, part of a plan to further facilitate trade and investment among Southeast Asian nations.

Railway-related industries are also expecting to see a big boost in business opportunities.

"This (project) is something we really needed," Phairush Burapachaisri, general-secretary of the Thailand Chamber of Commerce, told the Global Times at the Third East Asian Business Forum, which was held on Wednesday in Beijing.

During the seventh World Congress on High Speed Rail Wednesday, Thailand's deputy prime minister said China is cooperating on high-speed railways with the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Burapachaisri said the high-speed railway system will help improve the logistics between China and the region, particularly with Laos, Thailand, Malay-sia and all the way to Singapore.

The high-speed railway links China's Kunming city in Yunnan Province to northeast Nong Khai in Thailand, connecting Bangkok and then spanning east to the industrially driven Thai East-ern Seaboard.

After the railway's completion, cargo from China's southwest will be more easily transported to the nearest seaport, he said.

China has also agreed to help build a high-speed railway linked to the Laotian capital of Vientiane. Landlocked Laos, which has one of the fastest growing economies in the region, currently has only 3.5 kilometers of train track, running from the Thai border town of Nong Khai to Thanaleng. Construction on that project will be completed in 2015.

China already operates a high-speed rail network spanning 7,531 kilometers –the world's longest.

The bullish news of the latest joint venture pushed up stock prices Wednesday for Stateowned South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp and CNR Corp. Their stock prices jumped by 6.95 and 5.97 percent respectively on Wednesday.

Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang told the forum that China was "encouraging" its train producers and other concerns to "go global." He said China was ready to "share its technological achievements" with other countries, without elaborating.

The comments follow concerns by train makers in other countries that Chinese firms are using tweaked or "reengineered" Western technology to bid on contracts - an accusation Chinese officials deny. Foreign train producers maintain that selling such technology outside China would be a violation of China's agreements with them.

French engineering group Alstom and global transportation manufacturer Bombardier signed agreements Tuesday with the railway ministry to speed up development of rail transport in the vast country and also in overseas markets.

AFP contributed to this story
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Study on bullet train ready by mid-2011
By Rupa Damodaran Published: 2010/11/26
http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/20101125234139/Article/

MALAYSIA will only approach Singapore on the bullet train project connecting the countries’ capital cities once its feasibility study is completed by mid-2011, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala said.

The study is due to start in January and the results will be discussed in the Cabinet.

Idris said the project’s planning follows the timeline of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) announced by the government last month.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet … we need to take a hard look at the network and speed (aspects) and review the proposals (by companies),” he said on the sidelines of the joint conference of the Malaysian and Japanese economic associations in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

According to the ETP, the HSR service, travelling at an average speed of 350-450km an hour will transform travel on the Greater KL/Klang Valley-Singapore route by cutting travel time to 1.5 to two hours.

According to the ETP, the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) will jointly drive the initial stages of the project, which is estimated to cost RM16.5 billion.

Idris, who is chief executive of Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit), also said design details of the proposed mass rapid transit project in the Klang Valley are being finalised.

“We will then present them to the Economic Council and the Cabinet, and expect to finalise the project before the end of this year,” he said.

Physical work for the project will start in the middle of next year, with some of it being parcelled out for tender.

Idris said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will announce some of the confirmed ETP projects on November 30, which include those in the oil and gas sector.

On the timing of the ETP projects against a backdrop of economic uncertainties, Idris said the 12 National Key Economic Areas were selected because of their competitive advantages. This would provide the economy with the resilience to absorb any of the external shocks and yet enable the economy to enjoy a 6 per cent GDP average growth annually.

Idris said the government will continue to focus on subsidy rationalisation, making revisions at “the right time”.

They will be done in small doses as per public request but no advance notice will be given to avert any distortion in the market, like hoarding.

Idris has requested Japanese businesses and investors here to submit their proposals for immediate labour needs.
Japanese businesses yesterday expressed concern about Malaysia’s quest to set a minimum wage limit without addressing the productivity levels first.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority director general Datuk Jalilah Baba said the agency was currently negotiating with two Japanese companies in the chemical and petrochemical industries and electric car manufacturing, for substantive investments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Bullet train project may zoom into master plan
By Sharen Kaur Published: 2010/12/14
http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/TRANS13/Article/



The proposed high-speed rail linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore may be included in the national public transport master plan

THE proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed train project, costing between RM10 billion and RM12 billion, may be included in the national public transport master plan, said the chief of The Land Public Transport Commission (Spad).

Spad chief executive officer Mohd Nur Ismal Kamal said a feasibility study is being undertaken to examine viability of the project.

"The project may be considered in the master plan but we are not sure yet. The study will show how the high-speed train can be integrated with other public land transport," he said on the sidelines of the National Summit on Urban Public Transport 2010 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Malaysia is mulling over a high-speed rail linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore that will cut travel time between the two cities to 45 minutes.

A few companies, including YTL Corp Bhd and Hartasuma Sdn Bhd have made presentations to the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) lab on the project, involving a distance of about 300km.

Spad chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said the configuration of the high-speed rail would need to be looked into in detail before the project can be considered.

Spad, set up in June this year to regulate the land public transport sector, is drawing up a 20-year master plan to ensure the holistic development of public transport in the country.

The master plan will look into all aspects of public transport, including connectivity and accessibility, ensuring the development of a more integrated public transport system.

It will start with the Greater Klang Valley providing connectivity between buses, taxis, the light rail transit (LRT) system, the express rail link (ERL), monorail and the mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

Syed Hamid told reporters that the backbone of public transport will be urban rail, led by the RM40 billion MRT system.

"The MRT is going to be important. Most important is the route alignment to integrate public transport. Mobility and commercial areas need to be looked at for the routing," he said.

Syed Hamid said Spad is already engaging with the public, non-government organisations and public transport operators on feedback to draw up the master plan and submit to the government by September next year.

The government is targeting 25 per cent of the population in Greater Klang Valley to use public transport by 2012, and 30 per cent by 2015, from 12 per cent now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Vietnam Assembly stuns government by rejecting high-speed rail plan
Sat, 19 Jun 2010
http://www.monstersandcritics.com/n...-government-by-rejecting-high-speed-rail-plan

Hanoi - Vietnam's National Assembly Saturday rejected the government's plan for a 56-billion-dollar high-speed railway from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

The rejection of the government's controversial proposal is the most significant demonstration of independence ever by the national legislature in this Communist country.

The official Vietnam Television news reported the assembly had rejected the project in a vote Saturday afternoon.

According to the news website Dan Tri, the vote was 178 to 157 against a plan that would have approved general guidelines for the project, but required the government to provide more details. Eighty- two deputies abstained, while others were absent.

An earlier resolution that would have approved the government's plan in full gained 209 yea votes against 191 nays. But it failed to gain the required support of 50 per cent of all 493 deputies in the assembly.

The rejection was a significant black eye for the government in a country where major projects are generally rubber-stamped as a matter of course.

"In rejecting the government's project, the National Assembly has shown it is becoming more and more independent of the government, and become more and more democratic," said Vu Mao, former chairman of the assembly's Foreign Relations Committee.

Deputies have been unusually critical of the high-speed railway plan, scheduled for completion by 2035, since the government presented it to the assembly in May.

Critics have expressed concern over its high cost and the need to fund it through foreign development assistance and loans. Many deputies and Vietnamese economists worried the project would worsen Vietnam's foreign debt load, currently at 42 per cent of gross domestic product, and that the railway would not have enough passengers to recoup its capital costs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Ipoh-Pdg Besar project 60 percent done
2010/12/08
http://nst.com.my/nst/articles/Ipoh-PdgBesardouble-trackingproject60pcdone/Article/

BUTTERWORTH: The progress of the Ipoh-Padang Besar electrified railway double-tracking project (PLBE), which stretches 329 kilometres, is now 60 per cent complete, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said today.

He said although work on the project, running 329 kilometres and crossing Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis, was delayed, it was expected to be completed as scheduled in Dec 2013.

"The delay was due to land acquisition problems. However, the matter is now 99 per cent solved," he told reporters after a visit to the swing bridge of the PLBE project here.

Kong said the construction of the PLBE project involved building of, among others, 23 stations, 75 river bridges, 66 road over bridge, eight road under bridge, 45 bridges for pedestrians and motorcyclists and two tunnels, at Larut and Berapit.

A unique structure for the PLBE project was the construction of a 90 metre swing bridge at Sungai Prai for ships to pass through, he added.

He said work on the swing bridge, which used Austrian technology, was scheduled for completion in Dec 2012.

"It is now 40 per cent completed, which is 10 per cent ahead of schedule,'' he added. -- BERNAMA

SOURCE: THE STAR



In progress: The 300m-long Larut Tunnel near Taiping was
penetrated in March and is near ready for commissioning.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Prai swing bridge making good progress
Bernard Cheah Updated: 06:46PM Wed, 08 Dec 2010
http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=54887



A model of the swing bridge.
The bridge is expected to be ready December 2012.

SEBERANG PERAI (Dec 8, 2010): The new Prai swing bridge, which is part of MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd's electrified double-track project, is about 40% completed and scheduled to be ready by December 2012.

Describing the project as an iconic and unique structure, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said work on the 282m bridge, with a 90m mid-span which is able to rotate and swing, is ahead of schedule.

"According to the schedule, the project is supposed to be 30% done. We are about 10% ahead of the schedule," he said during a visit to the project site today, accompanied by MMC-Gamuda JV senior management.

"We are confident we can complete the bridge on schedule."

Kong said the bridge costs more than RM100 million, and is part of the project's reported cost of RM12.49 billion.

The bridge is designed to allow unrestricted movement of ships and other marine vessels along the Prai River.

When completed, it will replace the existing 40-year-old single-track railway bridge which was built by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) in the 1960s.

Other significant engineering features of the double-track project include the 3.5km Bukit Merak marine viaduct and the twin-bore Berapit Tunnel in Perak, which is expected to be the longest railway twin tunnel in Southeast Asia when completed.

Kong also gave his assurance that the double-track project could be completed on time. "We are slightly behind time due to the land acquisition process, but the project will still finish on time."

He said work on the project is almost 60% done, and is expected to be completed by December 2013.

"We are doing our best as the ministry and the contractor are working closely to schedule," he said

On another matter, Kong, who had earlier visited the SJK (C) Kim Sen in Bukit Mertajam, said the ministry has approved the acquisition of about 3,000 sq ft of land to be turned into an entrance to the primary vernacular school, which had been affected by the widening of Jalan Harapan.

He said the ministry had submitted the acquisition to the state Land and Mines Department in November.

"We are waiting for department to gazette the acquisition and the valuation for compensation to the land owner. When gazetted, the state exco would have to approve it," he said.

He hoped the matter would be resolved by the end of the year before the school term begins next month.

Prai River Swing Bridge, Penang - U/C

 
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