Govt to sub­sidise cost of op­er­a­tion to keep fares low, says Mustapa

New Straits Times - - News / Nation - SULAIMAN JAA­FAR KOTA BARU news@nst.com.my

THE govern­ment will en­sure that the rail fare for the East Coast Rail­way Link (ECRL) project from Gom­bak in Se­lan­gor to Ke­lan­tan will be af­ford­able to the peo­ple.

State Fed­eral Ac­tion Coun­cil chair­man Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed said the cost of op­er­a­tion of the train ser­vice would be high, but the govern­ment was will­ing to sub­sidise it, de­pend­ing on its ca­pa­bil­ity.

“No coun­try makes a profit from pub­lic trans­port.

There needs to be govern­ment as­sis­tance. Like the Mass Rapid Tran­sit (MRT), it is sub­sidised at least by 50 per cent, al­though I don’t know the ac­tual fig­ure.

“Just like health­care ser­vices... the govern­ment spent RM22 bil­lion but col­lected only RM700 mil­lion from the peo­ple,” he said af­ter chair­ing the coun­cil’s meet­ing here yes­ter­day.

He was com­ment­ing on state­ments by the op­po­si­tion that the high cost of the project would lead to a high fares.

Mustapa, who is also in­ter­na­tional trade and in­dus­try min­is­ter, said the im­por­tant thing was the govern­ment cared for the peo­ple and gave as­sur­ance that the fare would be af­ford­able.

How­ever, he said, the peo­ple should be re­al­is­tic and not ex­pect the fare to stay the same for years due to ris­ing costs.

He said the fare charged for the ser­vice would not cover the cost of the project.

“It will be sub­sidised. If not it will be very ex­pen­sive,” he said.

On an­other mat­ter, Mustapa said the Ke­lan­tan govern­ment had started the process of ac­quir­ing 445ha of land in the state for the con­struc­tion of the rail­way line and five sta­tions.

“Ke­lan­tan is the first state to ac­quire the land. We thank the state govern­ment for its com­mit­ment to as­sist the Fed­eral Govern­ment in the project,” he said.

Mustapa said the state would have 70km of rail­way line from the bor­der of Tereng­ganu with the first phase cov­er­ing 46km. The re­main­ing stretch will be built in the sec­ond phase.

He said the first phase would have three sta­tions — in Tok Bali, Jelawat and here. In the sec­ond phase, there would be two sta­tions — in Wakaf Baru and Pengkalan Kubur — in the Tumpat dis­trict.

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed

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