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Privatisation plan for Malayan Railways sparks anxiety

 | March 22, 2017

In calling for a rethink, MP Abdullah Sani says the privatisation move will likely result in train fares increasing and railway workers losing their jobs.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Langat MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid is concerned that the government’s plan to privatise Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) will result in an increase in fares and service charges.

The PKR Member of Parliament is also concerned that the privatisation of the national railway company could threaten the jobs of 5,500 railway workers.

Abdullah Sani said today KTMB should be operated as a subsidised social service by the government, and not privatised for the purpose of making profits.

He called on the government to re-evaluate its plans for the Railway Network Access Agreement (RNAA), which entails handing over KTMB to private hands, so that the interests of workers and the public would be safeguarded.

“I am worried that the RNAA will lead to the prices of commuter tickets and KTMB’s services to be hiked,” he said in a statement.

He said this would cause the cost of living to escalate further, compounding the burden of train users. He noted that KTM Komuter train fares had been raised in December 2015.

“I am concerned that the RNAA is being done with the intent that the government would no longer need to give financial allocations to KTMB, but instead pass on its responsibility to the private companies that will have contracts,” he said.

Abdullah Sani added that the agreement would expose KTMB to leakage of funds and cronyism if the organisational culture was not transparent.

He said an annual allocation of about RM2 billion through the federal government was enough for KTMB to conduct its operations, without needing any privatisation.

The RNAA is an agreement between the Railway Assets Corporation (RAC), which is under the transport ministry, and KTMB, the railway operator.

“If this is agreed to and supported by the Transport Ministry under Liow Tiong Lai as minister then all operations involving trains, cargo and locomotives would be taken over by outside companies while KTMB only coordinates train journey times and administers the stations,” he said.

Abdullah Sani said the issue was also of great concern to the workers there who would be taken over by private concerns.

Last Dec 21, Railwaymens Union of Malaysia (RUM) president Abdul Razak Md Hassan had expressed anxiety over the matter, saying the agreement could result in 4,000 workers losing their jobs.

Saying that KTMB’s workforce size of 5,500 people was expected to be cut to only about 1,500, he suggested that the transport ministry should generate more profits for KTMB by supplying it with more locomotives and freight trains.

Two days later, FMT quoted KTMB sources as assuring stakeholders that the RNAA had yet to be signed as it was looking at a win-win situation and was in the midst of studying details of the agreement.

The FMT report also quoted Razak as saying if the signing went ahead, he would hold a peaceful protest in front of the ministry.

The rail service, one of the oldest in the world, has been around since 1885 when it was established as the Federated Malay States Railways by the British colonial administration.

Railway union: 4,000 may lose jobs in KTMB

Fears over 4,000 jobs: KTMB says it will be win-win situation


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