KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has taken proactive steps in the Public-Private Partnership COVID-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (PIKAS) by utilising three (3) ECRL base camps in the East Coast states as industry vaccination centres (PPVINs). The implementation of this initiative will facilitate the exclusive vaccination of about 6,500 personnel and field workers, a bid that will further accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination process involving the construction and transportation sectors.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport Malaysia, Datuk Isham Ishak, who is also member of the Board of Directors of Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), said the ECRL base camps at Dungun and Chukai in Terengganu as well as at Maran in Pahang will operate as PPVINs, in line with the National Recovery Plan’s (NRP) strategy of returning the country’s economic sectors back to normalcy towards year end.

“MRL, as project owner of the ECRL, is pleased that the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) has recently granted approval for three ECRL base camps to operate as PPVINs, and also allocated adequate supply of vaccine for the ECRL workforce. The approval paves the way for ECRL personnel to receive their first dose within the month,” he said in a statement today.

Datuk Isham noted that MRL will together with ECRL project’s main contractor, China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd (CCC-ECRL), bear all the costs involved in the vaccination of the ECRL workforce which includes the set up charges for PPVINs and administrative fees for private medical general practitioners and healthcare personnel.

MRL had earlier written to the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation to convey ECRL project’s intention to participate in the Public-Private Partnership COVID-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (PIKAS), and at the same time proposed for ECRL base camps to be used as PPVINs.

“The ECRL project is grateful to the Federal Government for providing free vaccines to the people, thereby providing the opportunity for the ECRL project to raise vaccination awareness among its workforce that comprises personnel from MRL, CCC-ECRL, subcontractors and suppliers,” the Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport added.

The vaccination exercise will be carried out at the ECRL Dungun Base Camp on 16-18 August 2021 and at the ECRL Chukai Base Camp on 16-17 August 2021. Meanwhile, the vaccination exercise at the ECRL Maran Base Camp is also expected to kick off soon.

MRL and CCC-ECRL also noted that it is crucial for the ECRL project’s workforce to be immunised at the soonest as it will have a positive impact on the project which currently operates at 164 priority locations inclusive of excavation works of 10 tunnels. The number of priority locations is anticipated to surge to 338 locations inclusive of 27 tunnels when the project’s construction reaches its peak in the year 2022.

The ECRL project will make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its entire workforce and as a prerequisite for new personnel joining the project in the near future, as such requirement augurs well with the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme’s (PICK) target to fully vaccinate 80 percent of the country’s population by end of October 2021.

MRL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc.), is the project and asset owner of the ECRL while CCC-ECRL is the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contractor. Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the 665-km ECRL will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before linking the Klang Valley on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The ECRL will significantly cut travel time and connect Kota Bharu with ITT Gombak in approximately 4 hours.