Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement with China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), the main contractor for the 688-kilometer East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), to tackle possible environmental issues caused by the project.
According to the agreement, the CCCC will work together with NRE experts to take crucial measures to ensure the rail project complies with environmental requirements.
The CCCC would build wildlife underpasses at 29 strategic locations to allow wildlife to move freely despite the railway line passing through, said Bai Yinzhan, executive managing director of a CCCC subsidiary in Malaysia in a press release. He added that numerous elevated viaducts, with a possible length of 128 kilometers in total, will also be built so that wildlife can roam as they normally would and be protected.
Moreover, the CCCC will earmark 9.15 million ringgit (2.34 million U.S. dollars) to help NRE undertake wildlife relocation and related programs, according to the press release.
Touted by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as a game changer for the Malaysian economy, ECRL will link Port Klang in the west coast of peninsular Malaysia with the east coast. But some environmental concerns were raised as the rail alignment traverse a large swathe of forest reserve, in which tigers, elephants and jungle cats live.
When attending the signing ceremony, NRE minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar defended the government's efforts for wildlife and environment protection, saying a Wildlife Management Plan (WMP) was also launched along with the rail project. He said the plan would minimize and monitor the impact on wildlife and their habitats along key stretches of the ECRL.
Construction for the ECRL began in last August and is expected to be fully delivered and operational by 2024.