KUCHING, June 11: The proposed alternative road or bypass from Lawas and Limbang to Miri that does not pass through Brunei in addition to the Pan Borneo Highway had been approved by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian pointed this out in referring to the statement by Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail yesterday calling for the federal government to consider the proposed alternative road.
“On his first official visit to Brunei after becoming prime minister in 2018, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Brunei had come to an understanding that the Pan Borneo Highway would bypass Brunei.
“This has proven to be a wise decision, as many countries have closed the borders these past few months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was also a logical step to take so that Sarawakians will not need to have a passport to travel from one end of Sarawak to the other end,” he said in a statement today.
Baru, who was a works minister under the PH government, added that he had launched the new 425 km segment of the project, named the Sarawak Sabah Road Link (SSLR) at Long Sebangang, Lawas in November 2019.
“The SSLR will connect Sarawak and Sabah in two stages; from Lawas to Long Sukang, Long Luping and Pa’ Brunut, and from Pa’ Brunut to Long Lama. The SSLR is expected to be completed by 2030.
“Besides that, I also initiated the Trans-Borneo Highway to link the interiors of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan in Indonesia, which was expected to be completed in 10 years,” he elaborated.
Baru, who is also Selangau MP, informed that the 2020 Budget had included funding of RM600 million for the first part of the project.
He emphasised that infrastructure development is one of the basic functions of the government and a vital catalyst for economic and social development.
“In Sarawak, the people have waited for a very long time for a proper road connection from north to south.
“I hope the present Works Minister (Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof) will prioritise the interests of these people and ensure that the SSLR, Pan Borneo Highway and other road projects especially in rural Sarawak will continue without any hitches,” he urged.
Meanwhile, Dr Abdul Rahman emphasised that the alternative route is a long-term solution for the people in Limbang and Lawas, especially for certain circumstances such as the Covid-19 pandemic to facilitate the transportation and distribution of food and other essential items from Sabah or Miri.
Dr Abdul Rahman, who is also Bukit Kota assemblyman, also urged the federal and Sarawak governments to negotiate with Brunei to allow Malaysians in Limbang and Lawas to go through the neighbouring country during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period.—DayakDaily