Prasarana pays RM375m to LRT3 contractors after complaints made against Tajuddin

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LRT3 project owner Prasarana Malaysia Bhd has released RM375 million to turnkey contractor MRCB-George Kent, more than a week after complaints were made against Prasarana chairperson Tajuddin Abdul Rahman for allegedly withholding payments to sway appointment of sub-contractors.

The amount represents slightly more than half of the RM700 million contractors say Prasarana owed them for work done on the LRT3 project.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the payment received by MRCB-GK from Prasarana has been distributed to its subcontractors as of Friday.

The source said the progress payment was for work completed last July and August, an amount approximately half of RM723.888 million in total certified claims filed up to last October.

“Prasarana paid (MRCB-GK) RM375 million for claims in July and August.

“They (Prasarana) haven’t paid the claims for September and October,” said the source, adding that claims for November and December are still pending certification.

Prior to Tajuddin’s press conference, MRCB-GK, as well as top executives from 16 subcontractors and consulting firms, had turned to the government for help to claim the outstanding payment.

Tajuddin, who is under probe by the MACC over alleged abuse of power claims, previously insisted that Prasarana had paid MRCB-GK RM3.468 billion on last Oct 2 for work completed up to the month.

MRCB-GK at the time rebutted Tajuddin and insisted it has been paid only up to June last year.

As the turnkey contractor, MRCB-GK is in charge of parcelling out parts of the LRT3 project to its subcontractors, as well as to handle their requests for payments.

One of MRCB-GK’s subcontractor, Kumpulan Gabungan AQRS Bhd, told Malaysiakini that their company has so far received RM23 million in outstanding payments, from total claims of approximately RM60 million.

When contacted, AQRS group chief executive officer Azizan Jaafar confirmed the payments were received last Friday.

“We hope that by the end of this month we will receive the balance of the payment owed.

“At the time we were shocked to hear the chairperson’s (Tajuddin) statement that there were no outstanding payments,” Azizan told Malaysiakini.

“There is an implication from his inaccurate statement.

“We (subcontractors) also borrowed money from the bank, and if the bank thinks we are lying about our finances, the loan facility could be withdrawn,” he said.

Contrary to Tajuddin’s insistence that he was not interfering in MRCB-GK’s affairs and was only looking out for the interests of allegedly sidelined bumiputera contractors, Azizan said his company and others involved in the project had faced no such problems.

“No problems. We are not asking for any special privileges, just payment for work done,” he said, adding that his company’s payroll includes over 300 staff and 1,000 site workers.

The LRT3 project started in August 2015 with an initial budget of RM10 billion to serve some two million people along the Bandar Utama-Johan Setia route but the costs tripled to a whopping RM31.65 billion.

It was among several mega infrastructure projects reviewed by the federal government after Pakatan Harapan came into power in May 2018. – Malaysiakini

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