The tunnelling or underground works of the country’s first mass rapid transit (MRT) from Sungai Buloh to Kajang has not only set a milestone in the construction technology landscape but has also created a whole new ecosystem for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be involved and gain valuable experience in this multi-billion ringgit project.
The Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT (SBK Line) will be fully operational by July 17 and is estimated to have a daily ridership of 400,000. The Gamuda Bhd and MMC Corp Bhd joint venture, the main contractor of the RM8.2bil tunnelling job, has been a catalyst for higher local content in this project and has nurtured a robust SME ecosystem for the construction industry.
The length of the SBK Line underground portion is around 9.5 km with seven stations. The total length of the SBK Line is 51 km with 31 stations.
According to Gamuda Engineering managing director Datuk Ubull Din Om, out of the total underground contracts, around RM4.8bil jobs were awarded to 633 SMEs.
“So, I would say the benefit to locals is huge in terms of upskilling as well as exposure to new foreign technology and knowhow.
“For example, we are the first in Malaysia to use reinforced steel fibre in the tunnelling segment, instead of using steel bars.
“This is a new technology that involves technology transfers from other countries. And we also did a lot of research and development activities in the early stage.
“This is in line with the Construction Industry Transformation Programme (CITP) by the Works Ministry to increase industrial productivity under the P6 Advance SME/bumiputra capacity and capability building,” he says.
In the construction sector, SMEs are mainly in the special trades sub-sector, constituting about 40% of total establishments in the sector. Special trades refer to the construction of parts of buildings and civil engineering works without responsibility for the entire project.
The contracts for SMEs in this sector are well distributed across medium, small and micro enterprises.