By Karen Bong and Chris Bishop
KUCHING, Jan 5: An additional RM5 million has been approved, raising the total allocation to RM15 million to transform part of the abandoned Ang Cheng Ho quarry site with construction of a sports-community hall with innovation hub.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, in announcing this applauded the project initiative to innovate and modernise Batu Kawah by repurposing and turning the former quarry which had been abandoned for some time, into a new, useful and recreational ground for the community.
“The initial funding for this (People’s) project of RM10 million is not enough and Dr Sim has requested for another RM5 million for Batu Kawah. No problem, we will give additional RM5 million,” he highlighted at the earth-breaking ceremony for the project at the quarry site near Jalan Datuk Stephen Yong here today.
Abang Johari noted that this quarry was historical as it had produced stones for the building of roads and other projects since colonial times until Independence but it had reached its extraction limit and cannot be dug anymore or else it will have an impact on the ecosytem and landscape in Batu Kawah.
“So, Dr Sim proposed that it be used for development to elevate and modernise Batu Kawah and Kuching as a whole,” he shared.
Earlier on, Minister of Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian revealed that the budget for the People’s Project was insufficient as it did not take into consideration of land acquisition cost, the access roads and the increase in other costs amounting to RM5 million.
The open tender for the project on a four acres section of the 29-acres quarry costs RM9.8 million and is expected to be completed in 15 months.
Abang Johari pointed out that the whole area from Batu Kawah to Bau will be transformed in the next five years with enhanced mobility to include Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) that is now in its implementation stages by Sarawak Metro.
As efforts to change the economic functions of Bau into another tourism hub given the many attractions there, he added that Batu Kawah which is located in the middle between Kuching and Bau will definitely receive the spillovers from all the development planned.
“Beyond 2025, (upon the completion of) the first phase of ART, the second phase will extend to Batu Kawah, Bau, Lundu until Sematan. That is our next plan for ART in the second phase after completion of the first phase in 2025 and towards 2030, we will develop this ART passing through Batu Kawah.
“This is the overall development of Kuching District comprising Kuching, Bau and Lundu. We have a masterplan for that as we recognised that Batu Kawah is crowded now with rapid development that have caused jam and congestion.
“We will build roads under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) from here until Matang near Yayasan Sarawak roundabout, so that there will be three outlets for traffic flow access to Batu Kawah.
“It will meet at the circular ring road and lead to somewhere near BCCK (Borneo Convention Centre Kuching) and connected to Samarahan via a bridge. It means our roads are planned and cover all areas here including connection to Batu Kawah,” he added.
Once the areas were opened up, Abang Johari said that affordable housing estate can then be developed.
“We have a formula for this in which I will reveal later to help people own affordable homes,” he said.
Furthermore, he added that SEDC Energy is also planning to set up a 3-in-1 hybrid station (petrol, electric and hydrogen) in Batu Kawah, making Sarawak the only State in Malaysia and perhaps the only country in this region having 3-in-1 station.
“The future of Sarawak is very bright and we are very confident to make Sarawak a high income economy State by 2030,” he stressed.
State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang were among those present. — DayakDaily