COMPLETION of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line — the first phase between Sungai Buloh-Semantan was completed last December — on time and costing less than estimated marks a remarkable achievement for the country.
It proved beyond doubt that Malaysians are capable of undertaking mega engineering projects, one involving challenging engineering feats once thought to be the preserve of foreign expertise.
That young engineers involved in the MRT project qualified from local higher learning institutions demonstrates the competence of local graduates; as able as any comparable graduate from the best institutions in the world.
That in merely a decade the Klang Valley urban landscape has morphed into something akin to the New York skyline, for instance, where trains intermittently ply elevated routes and subterranean tunnels, demonstrates the leadership’s will to lift the country into the millennium of efficient urban transportation.
Malaysia is now connected physically through road, rail and air links complementing the information and communications technology network, thus shrinking the country, integrating east and west, as well as north and south.
With each passing day, Malaysia is becoming physically integrated, heralding a nation so easily accessible irrespective of where one may be located. It would not be wrong to forecast that a united Malaysian nation, a truly one Malaysia, is fast being realised.
Of course, this very connectivity, both physically and ethereally, cannot but mean greater economic efficiency. Where once the urban roads were a nightmare of congestion and links to remote areas were time-consuming, if not near impossible, today, with the newly laid public transportation and telecommunications network, the products of Ulu Kelantan, for instance, are easily accessed from Kuala Lumpur and transported to whichever destination needed without delay.
The same will be true of Sabah and Sarawak when the Pan- Borneo Highway is completed. The likes of bujang senang will have to languish in Sungai Rajang with no human prey in sight.
The seamless connectivity of the MRT, light rail transit and monorail links with its feeder buses, sometimes free, and taxi services spells a lifestyle of modern convenience set to change urban living in healthy ways.
Replication of the same in all the country’s urban centres will signal to the world investment community that Malaysia is the desired destination. Naturally, the unrivalled physical infrastructure (when compared with similar developing countries) will only further foster investor confidence.
Bolstered by ease of doing business in the country, Malaysia will more than reap the benefits of these mega projects, costly though it may be. Despite the short-sightedness of the critics who complain of public debt and question the feasibility of publicly beneficial projects such as the MRT, time cannot but prove the wisdom of this infrastructure mega project.
The public transportation rail network benefits everyone willing to avail themselves of the convenience. And, the economic knock-on effect of an efficient transportation is proven throughout the world.
Meanwhile, the MRT has proven its worth in helping create a pool of world-class human capital. Much more is yet to come.