China will finance and build a major railway in Malaysia, set to cost $13.1bn.
A framework finance deal and construction agreement was due to be signed today in Beijing for the 600km railway during a six-day visit to the Chinese capital by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak (pictured).
The so-called East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) will span four states in peninsular Malaysia, speed up trade and travel, and develop towns along its route, Malaysian officials say.
China will carry out detailed engineering and design of the ECRL, procure all materials and equipment, and deliver the facility to Malaysia, with work due to start next year, Malaysia’s transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told newspaper The Star.
"As far as I know, this is the biggest single deal Malaysia will be signing with China," said Liow, adding that the soft loans provided by the Export Import Bank of China are to be repaid over 20 years.
Liow said the construction contract would be awarded to state-owned China Construction Communications Company (CCCC).
"This rail project is going to bring a lot of economic development to the east coast (of the peninsula). It can unearth a lot of potential," Liow told The Star.
Officials are expecting the new railway to be completed quickly: it is due to be complete by 2022, say reports.
The line will connect Klang Valley, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Baru and Tumpat.
Image: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, 2013 (Michael Wuertenberg/World Economic Forum)