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Deputy Chief Minister II: Enhancing connectivity remains Sarawak government’s key commitment
Posted on : 18 Jul 2018  Source of News: The Borneo Post online

Deputy Chief Minister II: Enhancing connectivity remains Sarawak government’s key commitment

July 18, 2018, Wednesday


Masing shows reporters the booklet that contains his ministerial winding-up speech to be delivered in DUN.

THE Sarawak government is committed to constructing both the coastal road and the second trunk road.

Deputy Chief Minister II Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing said although building infrastructure may no longer be a priority as far as the federal government is concerned, the Sarawak Government remains committed to it in order to provide the necessary connectivity that will allow Sarawak to grow economically.

He said the three bridge projects namely those for Batang Rambungan, Batang Igan and Batang Lupar, were ‘originally dependent’ on federal funding – they are still waiting for final confirmation by the federal government.

“However, should the federal funding is not forthcoming, then the Sarawak government shall take the responsibility to ensure that these bridges would be built.

“While Peninsular Malaysia can wait for their high-speed rail(way), the people of Sarawak cannot do without basic connectivity and cannot wait in perpetuity for these developments to take place,” he said in his winding-up speech at DUN yesterday.

Masing, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, said the laying out of the coastal road network and second trunk road would directly benefit 60 per cent of the population residing in these areas.

He said the procurement process would be based on tender basis to ensure transparency.

“In order to nurture local construction companies, local Sarawakian contractors shall be given preference while other performance-based tender pre-qualifications are still being finalizsed,” he said.

On roads under ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme, he told the august House that these roads were constructed ‘purely for connectivity’.

According to Masing, the reason why Jiwa Murni roads exist is ‘purely based on logic’ — that ‘the rural villagers in Sarawak cannot be left disconnected and almost abandoned, while waiting for enough budget allocation to construct roads based on the standards set by Public Works Department (JKR)’.

“Because Jiwa Murni roads are designed and built out of the necessity for connectivity, these roads are meant for light use by the villagers.

“In no way are these roads meant for heavy vehicles laden with oil palm (fruits) and timber.  “Unfortunately, this is exactly what has been happening. To stop these heavy vehicles from ‘prowling’ on the fragile Jiwa Murni roads, the JKR is designing suitable gantries and half-culverts wherever appropriate. At the same time, I would also like to urge the JPJ (Road Transport Department) to carry out more enforcement activities as these (the ones enforced) appear to be inadequate,” he said.

Masing noted that in Sarawak, there are six Jiwa Murni roads spanning a total length of 197km.

Of the six, two – Long Luping-Ba Kelalan Road and Belaga-Menjawah Road – are in need of rehabilitation works due to the impact caused by frequent use by overloaded trucks.

“My ministry has sought funding under the Mid-Term Review (MTR) as allocation from the federal government is not forthcoming.

“I hope that the (federal) Minister for Works would take notice of the funding needs.”

Masing also said his ministry is looking at incorporating design based on JKR road standard for low-volume rural roads (LVRRs) to cater for light vehicles on all the present Jiwa Murni roads, acknowledging that vehicles do need to travel over these roads to supply goods and construction materials to those living there.

He said the appointment of Baru Bian as the federal Works Minister was indeed good news to all Sarawakians.

“I will always remember the statement he (Baru) made on Nov 10, 2017, and I quote: ‘The rights and safety of rural Sarawakians are equally as important as that of city dwellers’. With such sheer determination and conviction, my ministry believes that Baru would fight against all odds, storm for the equal rights of rural Sarawakians and get all the budget required for the upgrading and rehabilitation works on the six Jiwa Murni roads in Sarawak — despite the policy that ‘rural infrastructure development’ has been deemed to be ‘sederhana kritikal’ (moderately critical) by the Ministry of Finance,” said Masing.