A structure for toll booths has been set up at the Teluk Intan exit of the West Coast Expressway. PIX BY EFFENDY RASHID

IPOH: THE West Coast Expressway (WCE) stretch between Hutan Melintang and Teluk Intan, or Section 8, is set to be the first to be opened to motorists, currently earmarked to be completed before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The stretch is 95 per cent complete and is expected to be the first out of four packages in Perak and Selangor to be opened.

WCE Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Neoh Soon Hiong said hopefully, the 19.1km stretch would be accessible to road users before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

He said two other packages, Sections 9 and 10, were showing good progress.

“Section 8 is advanced in completion.

“There were no big issues at all, thus we can complete it according to schedule.

“After the opening of Section 8, we expect to open Section 9, which covers Lekir to Changkat Chermin, and Section 10, which is Changkat Chermin to Beruas.”

Neoh said for sections 9 and 10, about one to two per cent of roadworks needed to be done.

They included permeable paving and bearing tests to ensure the stretch was safe for motorists.

“Both sections have shown good progress, but we cannot give our assurance that they can be opened before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“Our priority is to ensure that they are safe for motorists.

“We are doing our best to ensure that the construction of the four packages can be completed as soon as possible to ease the journey of motorists.”

Neoh said the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) would have to decide tomorrow whether to open all four packages before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“The final inspection on the three packages will be done tomorrow (today) by MHA and WCE, and a decision will be made on which section can be opened before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.”

Checks by the New Straits Times at the Changkat Chermin exit on Saturday saw roadworks being carried out and eight toll booths set up.

Roadworks at the Teluk Intan junction are almost complete.

Workers were seen constructing the Teluk Intan Rest and Recreation area 500m from the Teluk Intan exit.

Ten toll booths have been set up.

The three packages in Perak cover Hutan Melintang to Teluk Intan (19.1 km), Lekir to Changkat Chermin (28km) and Changkat Chermin to Beruas (16.6km).

Selangor’s package involves only the northern side of the state.

The 223km WCE stretches from Jalan Banting-Kuala Lumpur International Airport (B18) to the Tanjong Karang interchange (93.8km) in Selangor and from Jalan Persekutuan (FR5) in Hutan Melintang to the Changkat Jering Plaza Toll (139.2km) in Perak.

Neoh denied that the Lekir to Changkat Chermin package was already open as claimed by viral messages.

“No such thing but we are expecting it to be opened soon. It is not a 1km or 10km stretch, and we need to take some time.

“However, it is good to see that people are excited about the opening.

“We hope we can open it now so that everyone can have alternatives to reach their destinations,” he said, adding that WCE would relieve congestion on the North-South Expressway.

He had said the concessionaire of the new WCE and MHA would conduct final rounds of compliance tests on the expressway’s structures today.

Questions were recently raised on whether WCE would open in time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri as promised, following the collapse of a section of the project in Klang on May 4.

The collapse of the 110m section caused water disruption in 65 areas in Klang due to three damaged main pipes near the project site.

On May 8, MHA director-general Datuk Aziz Abdullah said he did not discount the possibility of a diversion along the collapsed route, but stressed that it would depend on the findings of a report on the incident.