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KUANTAN: The RM55bil East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project covering a distance of 688km from Port Klang in Selangor to Tumpat in Kelantan is set to change the face of the east coast.

The mega project to be completed in 2024, is seen to be not only able to change the economic landscape of the east coast states, including Pahang, and spur development, but also change the social structure, especially of the rural areas.

Malaysia Malay Chamber of Commerce Pahang chapter president Yusri Yusof said the transformation project could balance development between the west coast and east coast of the peninsula.

“All this while, investments, whether from domestic or foreign sources, have always concentrated on the west coast.

“However, with a rail service that will traverse the smaller towns in Pahang like Bentong, Mentakab, Maran, Gambang, Kota SAS, Kuantan Port City I and II, and Cherating, it will be a blessing for the state in attracting investors to this part of the country,” he said.

At the same time, he said small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in the areas involved could also grab the opportunity to market local products such as river cage-reared patin fish, handicraft like the exquisite hand-loomed fabric (tenun Pahang) and the famed Bentong ginger when the stations along the rail route were operational.

 Meanwhile, Mohd Shahar Abdullah, representing the voice of youth in the state, said the ECRL was another project which the country could be proud of after the Mass Rapid Transport and ETS projects, by providing over 80,000 job opportunities.

“In Pahang, we have many higher education and skills training institutions established by the state government and various ministries, so a mammoth project like ECRL will offer many job opportunities to the local people across the east coast.

“From the social aspect, many of the local youth need no longer migrate to the cities and big towns to work, leaving their family behind.

“Indirectly, living with their own family will help them cope better with the rising cost of living,” he said.

Mohd Shahar, who is in his early 30’s, said the existence of the ECRL could also push up the price of property in the suburban and rural areas, besides drawing tourists to the eco-tourism locations in the state such as the National Park in Jerantut


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