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Question to Dato’ Seri Liow Tiong Lai – What happened to the Malaysian Transportation Safety Board (MTSB) that could have been tasked with investigating the accidents involving KTM cargo trains?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 24th of November 2017

Question to Dato’ Seri Liow Tiong Lai – What happened to the Malaysian Transportation Safety Board (MTSB) that could have been tasked with investigating the accidents involving KTM cargo trains?

Yesterday was the third major train derailment for the KTM service in the Klang Valley in the past three months. This most recent derailment involved a 12-coach cargo train which derailed between the Bank Negara and Kuala Lumpur KTM Komuter stations. Repair works are expected to take three days before regular services can be resumed.[1] On the 23rd of September, a snapped electrical cable between the Rawang and Kuang KTM stations also caused track closures for 2 days.[2] On the 21st of August, the derailment of a cargo train at Jalan Kuching also caused delays for a few days.[3] And this does not include the numerous times where trains have been delayed because of so-called technical problems.[4]

A simple glance at the feedback to @ktm_berhad’s twitter account and also the KTM Komuter’s complaint board[5] will show the many frustrations of KTM Komuter users. It is ironic that billions of ringgit have been spent on the MRT and yet, the services of KTM Komuter, which has more than a hundred thousand users per day (when there are no service disruptions), continues to be sub-par and plagued by major disruptions which seem to be happening more frequently.

SPAD’s twitter account (@SPADChannel) tweeted that the CEO of SPAD, Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah, visited the site of the train derailment yesterday. SPAD also issued a press statement yesterday to instruct KTM to cease its cargo operations from Rawang to Salak Selatan until KTM’s investigation into this derailment is completed.[6] I commend SPAD for its quick response and I urge SPAD to follow through to ensure that KTM reimburses the affected passengers so that they do not have to pay extra by taking the MRT as a result of the suspension of KTM Komuter services at the affected stations.

But SPAD must do more. It must not leave the investigation of the most recent cargo train derailment solely to KTM. SPAD itself must lead the investigation and make public the findings in the interest of transparency.

The Transport Minister, Dato’ Seri Liow Tiong Lai has been conspicuously silent throughout all three major disruptions involving KTM services. May I remind the Minister that KTM is still under the purview of his Ministry and that he should take responsibility for these disruptions. I also want to remind the Minister that we are still waiting for the establishment of the Malaysia Transportation Safety Board (MTSB), a statutory body which is supposed to carry out independent investigations of accidents for all modes of transport including rail accidents. This act to establish this statutory body was supposed to have been in the ‘finalisation’ stages way back in December 2016 but till today, we have not seen any sign that this act will be tabled in this parliamentary session.[7] If this statutory body had been established this year, it could have been tasked with investigating these recent derailment accidents. But because of the ineptitude of the Minister, we are left pointing fingers and none of us being any wiser as to the cause of these accidents and how to prevent them in the future.

[1] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/306368/three-days-until-regular-train-services-resume-says-ktmb

[2] http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/09/24/ktm-train-services-be-fully-restored-monday

[3] https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/270569/cargo-train-derails-ktm-komuter-and-ets-services-disrupted

[4] http://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/ktm-komuter-hadapi-masalah-teknikal-netizen-mengamuk-102834

[5] https://www.complaintboard.com/ktm-komuter-l4046.html

[6] http://www.spad.gov.my/ms/pusat-media/kenyataan-media/2017/spad-mengarahkan-ktmb-untuk-menggantung-operasi-tren-kargo

[7] https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/12/30/transportation-safety-board-being-finalised/#MLH2SGjtB6BEhdmU.99

Why should BESRAYA toll users pay to get stuck in traffic jams?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 21st of November 2017

Why should BESRAYA toll users pay to get stuck in traffic jams?

Every weekday evening, without fail, there is a long traffic jam starting from the BESRAYA Sungai Besi toll all the way to the Mines Shopping Mall. This bumper to bumper traffic of 2.4km frustrates drivers to no end because motorists are effectively paying to get stuck in traffic jams. This traffic jam has not been reduced even after the implementation of a contra-traffic flow which opens one additional lane after the BESRAYA toll heading towards Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

What many motorists are not aware of is the fact that the government, specifically, the Ministry of Works, can take action against the toll concessionaire if these traffic jams persist. For BESRAYA, the toll concessionaire must ensure a Level of Service (LOS) “C” at the toll plaza and / or at the immediate interchange. Level of Service “C” means a stable or at near free flow of traffic. During peak hours, the Level of Service after the BESRAYA Sungai Besi toll is “F” which is bumper to bumper traffic.

According to the concession agreement, if the traffic flow falls below the “C” LOS, the toll concessionaire must appoint a traffic consultant to do a traffic assessment. If the traffic consultant confirms that the LOS has fallen to below a “C” level of service, then the concessionaire must apply for flexible tolling. This means that during off peak hours, the toll rate must be reduced by at least 10% (See Table 1 below). This is to encourage more motorists to use the toll road during off-peak hours rather than during peak hours.

Table 1: Peak and Off-Peak Tolling when LOS falls to below service level “C” during peak hours

Peak Period

(a) 6:30 am – 9:30 am

 (b) 4:30 pm – 7 pm

Toll Rate

As per this agreement

 As per this agreement

Off Peak

(a) 9:31 am – 4:29 pm

(b) 7:01 pm – 6:29 am

Toll Rate

Minimum 10% lower than Agreed Toll in this Agreement

If a reduction in off-peak toll rates fails to bring the LOS to service level “C”, then the concessionaire must upgrade the Toll Plaza or the affected interchange at their own cost. During this time, the concessionaire must pay the government an amount equivalent to 10% of the estimated costs of the upgrading works per month for the inconvenience caused until the appropriate upgrading work is completed. For example, if the upgrading works cost a total of RM10 million, the concessionaire must pay the government RM1 million a month until the upgrading work is completed.

The failure of the Ministry of Works to take any action against the BESRAYA toll concessionaire clearly shows that this government has no political will to take on the toll concessionaires. Instead, this BN government has no problems paying millions of RM to these toll concessionaires in compensation for not raising toll rates. The total compensation paid to BESRAYA from the start of the concession period until 2015 was RM77.6 million. Instead of paying out these millions to BESRAYA, the government should ask BESRAYA to solve the traffic jam problem at its Sungai Besi toll and to fine the concessionaire as per the terms and conditions of the concession agreement as long as the traffic problem has not been resolved.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Disclose the MRT Line 3 tender to the public

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 15th of November 2017

Disclose the MRT Line 3 tender to the public

I was surprised to read the headline of the Edge Financial Daily yesterday (14th November 2017) with the title “Don’t politicise tender timeline – MRT Corp” quoting the words of the MRT Corp’s CEO Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar. I have found Shahril and his staff at MRT Corp to be very professional and responsive to public feedback in my dealings with them, in the context of the MRT Line 2 which runs through my constituency of Serdang. As such, he should have expected great public scrutiny when the construction and financing model for MRT Line 3 – expecting to cost between RM35 to RM40 billion – is changed from a Project Delivery Partner (PDP) model to a turnkey model.

MRT Corp and the Land Public Transport Authority (SPAD) have been singing praises for the PDP model as far back as 2011.[1] Former SPAD CEO, Mohd Nur Kamal, wrote that “In the case of the PDP, the risk of delays and cost over-runs is now borne by the PDP for a fee. The PDP provides a single point of accountability to deliver the entire project within agreed time and cost targets, or face financial penalties, something a pure engineering consultancy has no financial capacity or management capability to bear.”

Shahril, in yesterday’s media briefing, also explained that since MRT Corp acted as the PDP for the underground portion of the MRT Line 2, it can also manage the turnkey contractor for MRT Line 2 in a similar fashion. He said, “Since we have the necessary experiences to manage the underground portion, I think the question of not pursuing the PDP model should not have arisen, as we are capable of managing the turnkey contractor like we have done in the past”. But since the turnkey contractor is also responsible for 90% of the financing of the MRT Line 3 project, will the same incentives and punishments as the PDP model be used for MRT Line 1 and Line 2?

Shahril also stated that the alignment of MRT Line 3 has not been decided and will only be confirmed by the end of 2018. If the alignment is not confirmed, how can the bidders for the turnkey contractor accurately assess the total cost of building the MRT Line 3? For comparison, the MRT2 alignment went on public display in May 2015[2] and the first tender for the project’s advanced works was accepted only in November of that year. The packages for the underground portion and the first viaduct package was only awarded in March 2016, almost a year after the public display of the alignment.[3] Now, not only will tendering companies have to draw up their proposals very quickly, the full specifications of the project including the route alignment will only be known after the tender closes.

The tender documents for a project as big and complicated as the MRT will usually be sold to potential bidders and not be available for public scrutiny. But given the cost of this project, the changes in the construction and financing terms, and high level of public interest, I call upon the tender specifications of the MRT Line 3 to be publicly disclosed to answer many of the questions which have been raised by journalists, financial analysts and Members of Parliament.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] http://www.mymrt.com.my/cms/upload_files/mediarelease/mediarelease_download_000005.pdf

[2] https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2015/05/14/details-of-mrt2-project-on-public-display-tomorrow/

[3] http://www.mymrt.com.my/en/awarded-contracts-ssp