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SHAH ALAM: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he prefers a local company to undertake the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) tunnel boring works as it could enhance local engineering capabilities and knowhow.
It was reported that some foreign companies were bidding for the MRT tunnel job including those from China, South Korea and Japan as well as local consortium MMC-Gamuda, who had shown their ability in the construction of the SMART and Pencala Link tunnels.
Tunnelling is something new and complex, and giving the contract to a local firm would provide locals the engineering knowhow, Dr Mahathir told reporters after launching the MMC-Gamuda Tunnelling Training Academy at Kota Kemuning here today.
He said he understood that if a local company got the job, it would also play a role in the construction of the boring machine and this would present a good opportunity to acquire engineering knowledge in a field not normally available in Malaysia, and not many countries have this capability.
When asked about MMC-Gamuda's chance of securing the job he, said: "Well they are the one with the experience building the SMART tunnel as well as the Pencala, I think Pencala is one of the best-designed tunnels, even approaching it, it looks very nice.
"So I think they stand a good chance."
He added: "As to who will construct it, that is a matter for the government to decide, but if I had my way of course I would like to see it done by locals."
He said if the contract was awarded to foreign contractors, Malaysians would not learn anything from this project.
Dr Mahathir said: "But give it to local contractors, maybe the price might go higher or there may be delays and all that, I think we should pay the price, we don't get something for nothing.
"Even if we give it to foreigners there is no guarantee that there will not be some delay or some breakdown, so you have to take a risk, and if you are interested in acquiring the skills you have to take the risk."
Meanwhile Gamuda managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling told reporters that the goverment might announce the successful bidder for the tunnel job in April or May next year.
"We will do our best, we will try to come up with a competitive proposal and the best we can do," he said.
Asked to comment on certain people inside Felda against the listing of the authority's commercial arm, Dr Mahathir said throughout his 22 years in the government there would always be somebody in the government who opposed its proposals, but if it felt it would be good then it went ahead.
He said: "As you know, when we went ahead it turned out to be a good thing.
Some people within the government did not like building the Penang Bridge, did not like the LRT (Light Rail Transit) and things like that, but we had to take the view of those who supported it and the reasons for that.
"If we feel that it is worth it, opposition from within the government or from other organisations should be disregarded."
The MMC-Gamuda Tunnelling Training Academy is the world's first training school to produce highly skilled manpower for the tunnelling industry.
The RM10 million academy's immediate target is to train 1,000 professionals and skilled workers for the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang line, and the first batch of trainees started their training this month. -- BERNAMA