In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, Ekovest said its wholly-owned subsidiary Lebuhraya DUKE Fasa 3 Sdn Bhd has signed a concession agreement with the Federal Government to build, operate and maintain the proposed expressway.
The concession period is 53 years and six months.
Ekovest made its first announcement on the project on 15 January last year when another of its wholly-owned subsidiary Konsortium Lebuhraya Utara-Timur (KL) Sdn Bhd (Kesturi) received a letter from the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS) of the Prime Minister's Department approving in-principle the proposed privatisation of the expressway, then known as DUKE Phase 3.
The proposed alignment of SPE, measuring approximately 35km, will traverse north to south of Kuala Lumpur and will serve areas such as Tunku Abdul Rahman University College in Setapak, Wangsa Maju, Setiawangsa, Jelatek, Ampang, the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) and Bandar Malaysia development corridors, Seputeh, Salak South, Mid Valley City and Bangsar South in Kerinchi.
About 2km of the alignment will now run along the border of Bandar Malaysia in Sungai Besi.
It was no coincidence that Tan Sri Lim's Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd recently tied-up with China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd to acquire a 60% stake in the development of the 486-acre Bandar Malaysia mixed development which will yield a gross development value (GDV) of RM150 billion.
The toll expressway is expected to provide an alternative route for road users with improved and more efficient traffic dispersal system in and around Kuala Lumpur city centre to complement and relief peak hour congestion on existing arterial roads and expressways along its proposed alignment.
SPE is part of the greater DUKE masterplan to complement the traffic dispersal system in and around Kuala Lumpur with a loop of an estimated 50km of free-flow highways encircling the city centre.
"The SPE is also expected to improve connectivity with existing expressways and public rail transportation system such as the KTM Komuter, LRT and MRT lines and providing a holistic land transport system to support the development and modernisation of Greater Kuala Lumpur," said Ekovest in today's filing.
The project cost of the expressway was previously estimated at a lower RM3.57 billion and was expected to be financed via a combination of internal funds, borrowings and/or other fundraising exercise, subject to the finalisation of the proposed expressway's technical and financial terms and conditions.
It also said the concession agreement is expected to contribute positively to the group's earnings and the net tangible assets for future financial years.
"The Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway will be the first expressway in Malaysia to be designed to cater for full electronic tolling system and is envisaged to utilise the multi-lane free-flow system upon its opening in 2020," according to the construction-cum-infrastructure company.
Since September 2015, Ekovest has become one of the pioneers to use the full electronic tolling system at its existing DUKE Phase 1.
To recap, the company bought a 70% stake in the 18km, 34-year concession of DUKE Phase 1 in 2012 under an RM325 million share-swap deal.
In early 2014, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) divested its 30% stake to Ekovest for RM230 million cash. During the same year, Ekovest proposed to build DUKE Phase 2, which is an extension of the DUKE for RM1.183 billion.
DUKE Phase 2 will link Phase 1 from two ends, connecting the east and west sides of Kuala Lumpur via a 7km link from Sri Damansara (SDL) and a 9km link from Jalan Tun Razak (TRL). The expressway will serve as a link between the Kuala Lumpur Middle Ring Road 1 (MRR1) and Kuala Lumpur Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2).
According to Ekovest, these linkways will help to strengthen and boost the use of public transport, hence the company will build 10 park-and-ride facilities at strategic points along the DUKE alignment.
These are near MRT, LRT and KTM Komuter lines in Segambut, Sentul, Setiawangsa, Jelatek, Chan Sow Lin, Phileo Damansara, Batu Kentonmen, Seputeh, Kerinchi and Salak South. Each facility is expected to provide between 4,000 and 5,000 parking bays.
Under DUKE Phase 2, the SDL will start from a new interchange in Segambut, which is located between the existing Kuching and Duta interchanges on DUKE Phase 1 and end at another new interchange in Menjalara.
The Segambut Interchange will feature DUKE's first park-and-ride integrated commercial complex called Segambut Rest and Service Area (Segar), which will be developed concurrently with the SDL.
Spanning 7km, the SDL will have one open toll plaza, two interchanges and a pair of directional ramps near Desa Park City.
As for the 9km TRL, it will link up with DUKE Phase 1 through the Sentul Pasar Interchange as well as the Karak Link via the new Gombak Interchange, a new trumpet interchange providing access to DUKE Phase 1 from Jalan Gombak and Jalan Genting Klang.
Construction of the DUKE Phase 2 is well underway, and is now set for completion in 2017.
Ekovest-MRCB consortium was also appointed as the project delivery partner (PDP) for the River of Life (RoL) project, which is a key national economic project to clean up and revitalise the rivers of Kuala Lumpur. This project is also well underway in Precinct 7 (Masjid Jamek to Pasar Seni), the first sector of the river alignment.
In the coming years, Ekovest's property development arm is expected to launch large property projects along DUKE and RoL projects. It has several ongoing projects in Klang Valley such as EkoCheras and EkoTitiwangsa.
Meanwhile, as part of its obligations under the concession agreement, Ekovest will provide training and career opportunities to suitable young graduates or professionals.
It will soon launch a graduate training programme that will provide career opportunities and on-the-job training to young Malaysian graduates and professionals in various fields such as engineering, architecture, quantity surveying and finance.