Yesterday, Sarawak Report made an explosive allegation about an inflation of costs in the proposed East Coast Rail Line from RM30bn to RM60bn so that 1MDB debts could be paid off.
The website claimed that the project would be awarded to the China government-backed China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).
Sarawak Report also linked CCCC to an Air Itam land bank that 1MDB is saddled with.
Last year, I blogged about how in 2011, the World Bank had blacklisted China Communications Construction Company Ltd until January 2017 due to “fraudulent practices” in a major Philippines road improvement project.
CCCC Ltd was involved in the 22.5km-second Penang bridge project. China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), the main contractor for the substructure of the bridge, is a subsidiary of CCCC. CHEC, however, has dismissed allegations that it is connected to the World Bank blacklist of CCCC.
All the same, the estimated cost of the second bridge soared from RM2.7bn in July 2007 to RM4.8bn in May 2008. I was taken aback and blogged about it back then.
Now, Penangites might be interested to know that a company with the same name (CCCC) is still doing business in Penang.
In October 2015, Eastern & Oriental awarded a contract to China Communications Construction Company (M) Sdn Bhd (CCCC Malaysia) to carry out land reclamation for the Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 (STP2) in Penang. This was reported to be a wholly owned subsidiary of CCCC.
Referring to the World Bank’s debarment of CCCC, E & O said it had done the necessary assessments.
The land reclamation involves 760 acres for phase two of Seri Tanjung Pinang and 131 acres for the Gurney Drive reclamation.
The controversial 131-acre Gurney Drive reclamation involves land to be allocated for high-end property development, a controversial eight-lane highway (with green strips on either side) and the Gurney Wharf project. This is being promoted to the Penang public as land for a public park and a beach in the city – with little mention made of the massive proposed property development near and in front of Gurney Plaza.
If this is the same company as the one fingered in Sarawak Report, then in the interests of transparency, the detailed cost breakdown for the land reclamation should be made public.
Even if the project is undertaken by a listed firm, the minority shareholders of E & O should be made aware of the detailed cost breakdown. Not to mention the public as it involves a much-cherished public asset – Gurney Drive.
Elsewhere in Malaysia, CCCC is also involved in the Ampang LRT project, a port breakwater project in Sarawak, and reclamation and shore protection work in Sabah. Earlier this year, CHEC won the bid for the Kuantan deepwater port wharf project.
CCCC was also in a consortium (which includes China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd and China Railway Engineering Corporation) that submitted a proposal to the ministry of transport for the Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double-tracking rail project. (Why are they talking about a high-speed railway from KL to Singapore now when they have not yet completed the double-tracking from Gemas to JB for the existing north-south electric train service?)
It seems like CCCC is the flavour of the last few years.
All these projects must now come under the microscope.