Batang Igan ferry service under state govt’s purview, says Baru

Baru (centre) speaking to reporters as Works Ministry deputy secretary-general (Policy and Development) Dato Abdul Razak Jaafar (left) and State-Federal Development Office officer Mohd Zaki Mahyudin listen.

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, March 18: The operation of ferries along the state-funded Coastal Highway is the responsibility of the state government, said Works Minister Baru Bian.

“I am made to understand that the Batang Igan ferry service is under the state (government). This is the Coastal Road. The whole stretch is under the state government.

“So, I think you should be asking the state government. I hope the state government will look into this matter soon. As a traveller myself, I do drive (along Coastal Highway) at times, so it is of grave concern,” he said.

He was responding to a remark by Jemoreng assemblyman Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya that was published in a local daily today, where he highlighted complaints from his constituents that only one ferry was servicing them; hence, causing very long queues that sometimes last up to four hours to cross the river.

According to Juanda, he had checked with the Public Works Department (JKR) to find out why there was only one ferry servicing the area and was told that the main ferry had suffered very serious technical problems, which needed at least a week to repair, while a spare ferry had also broken down.

He said he was informed that the main ferry had been sent to Sibu for repairs after its propeller came off and went missing in the river, while the spare ferry was waiting for spare parts ordered from Germany.

He said the ferry currently being used to service the area had been ‘rather slow’, resulting in a very long wait for motorists.

Juanda said he was very appreciative of the state government for planning to construct the Batang Igan bridge after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government cancelled the funding for it last year.

Meanwhile, on another matter, Baru revealed that RM77 million of the RM4.33 billion allocated for Sarawak’s Fourth Rolling Plan (4RP) for the year 2019 under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) had been spent on various development projects.

He also revealed that as of February 24 this year, 81 development projects were ahead of schedule, six behind schedule, 375 on schedule, 45 being kept in view and 49 still being implemented.

Apart from that, RM21.5 million would also be spent for the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land perimeter survey works under the 4RP.

“For 2019, we have targeted to survey 52,394 hectares of NCR land and for individual titles 15,000 hectares. Cumulatively, 869,072 hectares have been surveyed and for individual land 22,983 hectares, where 9,461 individuals have been given their titles,” said Baru.

He assured that the federal government, through the State Action Council chaired by him, would continue to work with the state government to ensure that development projects that would benefit the rakyat would continue. — DayakDaily