Malaysia

PKR threatens to make Ampang LRT a campaign issue

By Clara Chooi
July 03, 2012
Latest Update: July 03, 2012 10:05 pm

PETALING JAYA, July 3 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak must come clean on any alleged interference in the RM960 million Ampang LRT extension project or face a major campaign issue on his hands, PKR threatened today, after exposing proof that speculated tender winner George Kent consortium had failed both the technical and commercial evaluation for the contract.

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli vowed at a press conference here that the party would "go down, campaign and ensure" that commuters affected by the line would know how their prime minister was willing to place their safety at risk.

"Let them know what kind of care the PM puts in the issue of public safety,

"We will go down, campaign, and ensure that those affected... will give a full briefing and also the full technical report... so they would know how Najib's interference in the project has placed public safety at risk," he said.

“We need to emphasise here the importance of integration... if integration is done wrongly, it would jeopardise the entire existing system,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider reported last week that the speculated winner of the Ampang LRT (Light Rail Transit) system works — the George Kent — Lion Pacific joint venture - had scored one of the lowest points in the technical and commercial evaluation for the project.

Rafizi (picture) distributed today pages from the "Technical Evaluation Report" conducted by renowned consultancy group Halcrow, which had found in September last year that George Kent could not successfully deliver the Ampang LRT extension project.

According to the report, George Kent, said to be a manufacturer of water meters, has “no current rail projects” and has “no previous related rail experience”.

The report also said that the largest project ever completed by the consortium was worth under RM40 million, which Rafizi said raises doubts over George Kent’s capability.

“How can we trust that they would do a good job on the project if they have never ever managed a project of this magnitude?” he asked.

The report also stated that when George Kent was questioned during their bidding presentation, “it was apparent that not only was there a lack of understanding or aptitude for the systems integration process, but that their proposed integration consultant neither understood the requirements, integration or configuration issues, nor how to manage them”.

In its conclusion, the report’s technical evaluation panel said it has “no evidence or confidence” that George Kent, along with three other tender bidders for the project, could successfully deliver the Ampang LRT extension.

“Based on these documents, it proves that George Kent has no expertise, except that the owner of George Kent has a connection to Najib,” Rafizi alleged.

He added that although Najib had last week denied interfering in the tender award for the project, the prime minister had neither confirmed nor denied reports that George Kent had been given the contract.

Rafizi claimed to be in possession of documented proof, to be released soon, that Najib had recently, in a “private meeting” with top-level individuals, announced the tender award to George Kent.

This was despite an earlier decision by Putrajaya to award the multi-million ringgit rail project to Balfour Beatty-Invensys Consortium, which Rafizi said were the best qualified for the job.

The rail builders led by the British engineering firm were the lowest bidders for the LRT open tender that closed on June 16 last year, offering to take on the project for RM950 million. The highest bid was for RM1.45 billion.

PKR had recently lodged a police report on the issue, citing Najib for criminal breach of trust (CBT) in his alleged interference in the project award, which has yet to be announced in public.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has also kicked off investigations at Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB) over the RM960 million contract.

The Malaysian Insider reported on June 29 that the speculated winner of the Ampang LRT system works, George Kent, was one of three bidders that failed both the technical and commercial evaluations for the RM960 million contract.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that only five of the eight bidders passed the technical and commercial evaluation stage but project owner SPNB finally recommended one of the two South Korean consortiums in the running — PDA Consortium — as the other consortiums were said to not have complied with all conditions.

PKR officials have shown copies of official documents to the press, showing that the Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) Acquisition Committee, which met this January 25, had decided to award the contract to Balfour Beatty-Invensys Consortium.

The committee is the highest decision-making body in the MoF and is chaired by Najib himself, who is also finance minister.

But in a report, the Business Times said Putrajaya was due to announce the winning bidder by the end of June, adding that it was George Kent that was tipped to get the lucrative project.

PKR’s sheaf of documents have shown, however, that the SPNB meeting on December 2, 2011, had recommended that PDA Consortium undertake the project for RM1.12 billion over 44 months. SPNB is a wholly-owned unit of the MoF and the company has budgeted RM1.5 billion for the system works.

SPNB is spending some RM7 billion for the extension of both the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT rail networks. The Ampang network will be extended by 17.7km.

Apart from extending the current LRT lines, Putrajaya is also undertaking the multi-billion ringgit My Rapid Transit (MRT) that will snake through the capital city. The country’s most expensive infrastructure project to date is to be ready by June 2017 but there have been delays and reluctance by international companies to bid for the tenders on offer.

The Land Transport Commission (SPAD) has announced that up to RM160 billion could be spent on railway infrastructure projects in the country, making Malaysia a tempting destination for international engineering firms.