JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) says investor interest in Iskandar Malaysia mega development in Johor remains strong despite the the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Irda chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, more efforts are needed to further attract new investments to develop the economic growth corridor.

He said that Irda is confident of achieving a total cumulative committed investment of RM383bil as outlined under its comprehensive development plan (CDP) 2006-2025.

“We have to work harder to ensure Iskandar Malaysia stays attractive and relevant in today’s highly competitive market conditions, ’’ said Ismail at a recent media briefing on the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid (IMBRT) project pilot testing project that will take place from next month till July.

Since Iskandar Malaysia’s inception back in Nov 4,2006, the economic growth corridor has attracted RM380bil cumulative committed investment until Dec 31,2020.

In 2020, some RM24bil worth of investments were recorded.

“This figure (RM24bil) is lower than the average RM30bil recorded yearly during the pre-Covid-19 days.

“However, it is still commendable after taking into account the impact of the pandemic on the global economic growth, ” Ismail explained.

Given the challenging times facing all countries worldwide including Malaysia, he said Irda is projecting a lower investment at RM17bil for 2021.

Ismail is also confident that Iskandar Malaysia would ride through the tough times.

“This economic growth corridor will emerge even stronger once the Covid-19 pandemic is flattened with the availability of the vaccines.

“In fact, we are going to review our RM383bil investments target and we are looking at increasing the figure to probably RM400bil, ’’ said Ismail.

He pointed out that the RM400bil target was not a final figure, adding the revised number would be made after its investment strategies under the CDPiii.

On the IMBRT project, Ismail said it would be the backbone of public transportation in Iskandar Malaysia with the objective to enhance public transportation coverage in the region.

He said the project is slated to roll out in 2023 and the coverage would increase to 90% from 39% currently while the usage of public transportation will be from 15% to 40% by 2025.

Ismail said the pilot testing programme would see nine bus suppliers from China, Spain, Sweden and South Korea demonstrate their latest green bus technologies, including electric and biodiesel.

He said participating suppliers also would showcase buses ranging from six metres, 12 metres to 32 metres, along the Sultan Iskandar Highway between Horizon Hills and Anjung in Medini.