BPMB, UOB Malaysia, CCB arrange syndication to finance first hydrogen-powered ART

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(From front left) Ma, Roni, Ng, and EPR Mobilus GR JV Sdn Bhd CEO Chan Chee Kian are seen at the signing ceremony. Looking on are SEDC and Sarawak Metro chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain (back right) and Sarawak Metro CEO Mazli Mustaffa.

KUCHING (July 20): Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Berhad (BPMB), UOB Malaysia, and China Construction Bank (Malaysia) Berhad (CCB Malaysia) today announced a syndication programme to extend financing facilities to EPR Mobilus GR JV Sdn Bhd (EMGJV).

EMGJV is the contractor appointed by Sarawak Metro Sdn Bhd to develop South East Asia’s first hydrogen-powered, Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) here.

Sarawak Metro, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), was entrusted by the state government to implement the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project.

The syndication programme comprises a financing package amounting RM264.5 million, which will enable EMGJV to undertake the KUTS Phase 1 project.

The completion of the project will see the roll out of the Blue Line (from Rembus in Kota Samarahan to Hikmah Exchange in Kuching city centre), Red Line (from Kuching Sentral to Pending) and Green Line (from Pending to Damai Central).

BPMB, UOB Malaysia, and CCB Malaysia are the Mandated Lead Arrangers of the syndication programme.

The partnership between the banks in this programme underscores the banks’ shared commitment to driving positive economic growth and fostering sustainable development for the city.

BPMB Group CEO Roni Abdulwahab said: “This project aligns with our purpose to deliver impact capital for national development. Bank Pembangunan has supported strategic national infrastructure projects over the last 50 years. Today, we evaluate all our activities using our assessment framework called MIND (Measuring Impact on National Development), to make sure all of our projects deliver socioeconomic and environmental impact.

“KUTS particularly scores high in our MIND evaluation. Bank Pembangunan salutes the Sarawak government and its vision, and aspires to be a part of its sustainable journey.”

The KUTS will feature innovative ART trains that employ advance optical recognition technology, enabling it to operate on dedicated trackless lanes, without the need for physical steel rails, and are powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The cutting-edge technology with zero-carbon emission represents an advancement in public transportation efficiency while minimising the adverse impact on the environment.

“UOB is proud to be part of this momentous project, which will contribute to the development of Kuching’s infrastructure and sustainable growth, as well as improve the quality of life for the people in the city. As part of our net zero commitment, this project is aligned to our focus on reducing financed emissions that fall under Scope 3,” said UOB Malaysia CEO Ng Wei Wei.

“With Sarawak’s abundance of renewable energy resources and its Government’s supportive polices, the state clearly has the potential to forefront the transition towards a green, high-value economy and UOB will be happy to support this ambition.”

The project is scheduled for pilot testing by the third quarter of 2023, and planned to begin full operations in stages by the fourth quarter of 2025.

Once operational, each ART train can carry up to 300 passengers across the 69.9km Phase 1 alignment of KUTS covering the Kuching metropolitan and Greater Kuching areas.

CCB Malaysia deputy managing director Chelsea Ma Yan said: “As one of the top two banks globally in terms of Tier 1 capital, CCB Malaysia has been leveraging on CCB Group’s strength in infrastructure financing to support the infrastructure development in Malaysia. We are proud to be involved in the development of integrated public transportation system in Kuching, which will enhance the existing traffic system and boost economic growth in Kuching.

“Moving forward, CCB Malaysia is dedicated to provide more comprehensive financial services for industries in Sarawak, in order to support Sarawak’s aspiration to become a developed and high-income state by 2030.”