By Jaythaleela K
BARIO, July 29: The Kelabit Highlands here will experience a huge boost in terms of development and accessibility within five years, assures Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Speaking at the launching of the 14th Bario Food and Cultural Festival (Pesta Nukenen) on Saturday here, he said the state government has long-term development plans for Bario.
He added, with the vast size of Sarawak, a special focus is needed to develop the state which is for sure not an easy path.
However, Abang Johari is confident with the support given by the people, plus Sarawak’s stability and harmony, development planning can be achieved.
“We want to bring development to the rural areas, so that they will not be left behind in various aspects,” he emphasised.
These long-term plans include improving Bario’s airport for better accessibility by air.
He hinted of the possibility that a new airport could be built here.
However, Abang Johari also highlighted other possible alternatives, that is to have a helicopter service that can fly any time and transport at about 20 passengers at one go to the area.
“If we are to build a new airport (in Bario) we would have to enter our neighbouring country’s airspace (Indonesia), as it is close to the Sarawak-Kalimantan border….so, we will think either way (sic) to build a new airport or provide the helicopter services, or both,” he said.
Another area of focus for the Sarawak government in Bario is the development of high-speed Internet.
“I has requested the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to go to Bario for the purpose,” he said.
During the event, Abang Johari also announced road upgrading works from Bario to Long Banga.
“We have approved the allocation for the purpose, including annual fees for the maintaince works amounting to RM3 million,” he said.
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Tourism, Arts ,Culture ,Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, acting State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion, State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala who is also Mulu assemblyman, Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat and Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dr Philip Raja. — DayakDaily