Batang Lupar Bridge the cornerstone of Sarawak’s megaproject plan in binding entire State together

An artiste impression of the Batang Lupar Bridge that will span 4.8km to connect Samarahan and Betong

By Karen Bong and Chris Bishop

SEBUYAU, March 23: The massive 4.8km-long Batang Lupar Bridge – to be the longest river-crossing bridge in Malaysia when completed in five years time, is seen as a cornerstone of Sarawak government’s RM11 billion Coastal Road Network and Second Trunk Road plan to bind the entire State together and provide links that will spur economy and development.

This soon-to-be “King” of bridges in Sarawak that will connect Samarahan to Betong with two-lane single carriageway has officially kicked off today following the earth-breaking ceremony by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Public Works Department (JKR) Sarawak, in providing an overview of the infrastructure development in Sarawak today, revealed that the Coastal Road Network and Second Trunk Road programme is a megaproject with a total of 62 packages and estimated to value at RM11 billion.

A 4.8km bridge will be constructed across the mighty Batang Lupar to link up major towns from Samarahan to Betong in Sarawak.

Under the massive infrastructure development, the components of the project will include 11 major bridges costing RM4 billion while RM7 billion will go towards road and other infrastructure constructions to connect Sarawak’s major towns along the coastal areas – home to some 1.9 million people – from Kuching to Samarahan, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu and Miri together.

Batang Lupar Bridge is part and parcel of the Coastal Road Network Connectivity Programme to provide a continuous and seamless travel to serve the population along the coastal belt in Sarawak.

JKR Sarawak pointed out that the Batang Lupar Bridge (Samarahan-Betong), estimated to cost RM849 million, is funded by the Sarawak government under State Alternative Funding and expected to complete in 48 months by Jan 6, 2025.

The proposed bridge is to replace the ferry service crossing Batang Lupar with a permanent, uninterrupted and all weather bridge-crossing that can be used throughout the day compared to the ferry service where the duration of the ferry service is limited.

JKR Sarawak emphasised that it will be the catalyst to boost surrounding socio-economic activities along the coastal region of Sarawak especially along Samarahan namely Asajaya, Sadong Jaya, Sebuyau, Triso, Beladin, Maludam and others.

With the site possessed on Jan 7, 2021, JKR Sarawak explained that works are currently ongoing on site including investigation work to determine the length of the pile which would range between 50 to 80 metres deep.

The project main work components generally consisted of the construction of a two-lane single carriageway according to JKR R5 standard spanning approximately 4,844 metres long with navigational channel of 250m in width and 26m in height to allow vessels to pass through.

Another package on the construction covered the approach road for the Batang Lupar Bridge with an estimated cost of RM64 million which is expected to be completed in 24 months by Jan 23, 2022.

The project scope consisted of two-lanes single carriageway approach road with JKR R5 standard connecting to Batang Lupar Bridge including construction of one four-legged roundabout at Sebuyau side and three-legged roundabout at Triso side.

Other works also involved relocating the existing water mains and high-voltage electrical services and all other civil, street lightings, signages and signaling as well as associated works.

JKR Sarawak elaborated that the Batang Lupar Bridge (Samarahan-Betong) project is undertaken by Perbena Emas Sdn Bhd with technical partner MBEC-JAWALA Consortium Sdn Bhd which is the construction arm in Malaysia for the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co. Ltd. that focuses mainly on the construction of mega infrastructure projects.

With this collaboration, the contractor would be able to tap on the expertise of the parent company which designed and constructed most of the bridges in China as well as abroad.

JKR Sarawak also briefed that machineries will be brought in for the Batang Lupar Bridge construction including a 108-metre-high piling barge and a drilling machine to be delivered in May this year.

The Muara Lassa Bridge is 2.43km long and expected to be completed by March 21, 2023

Meanwhile, the Coastal Road Network connectivity will have 13 work packages, out of which 11 are under construction and two in the tender stage, with a total cost of RM4.45 billion.

Pavement improvement works along existing coastal roads involved 36 sub-packages, out of which six are under construction, three had been awarded, six in tender stage, 19 under design stage and two are ready for tender with a total value of RM555 million.

From Asajaya all the way to Pusa, there are six packages under the Samarahan Division and seven packages under the Betong Division with a total value of RM200 million.

For the Second Trunk Road, there are 13 work packages, out of which six are under construction, four still finalising design and three ready for tender, with a total value of RM6 billion.

Constructions are ongoing for the approach road for the Batang Rajang Bridge.

Quantum of road works under both programmes include rehabilitation of the existing coastal roads covering 330.67km all the way from Samarahan, Asajaya to Miri while the coastal road network covers 46.4km and the Second Trunk Road spanned 242.42km with 180km built over peat soil with an average of five to seven metres deep.

Quantum of structural works consisting of 10 major bridges under the Coastal Road totalling length of 17km. Under the Second Trunk, there are three major bridges plus some minor bridges with 5.458km.

Men in a safety vest seen guiding the piling works at the construction site for Batang Rajang Bridge

Among the bridges still under construction are Batang Saribas (1.55km), Sungai Krian (0.55km), Batang Rajang (1.2km), Batang Paloh (1.7km), Muara Lassa (2.43km) and Batang Igan (1.43km).

With such rapid planning of Coastal and Second Trunk Road Project, JKR Sarawak believed that at such an agile development rate, Sarawak is on the right track to become one of the most developed states in Malaysia by 2030. — DayakDaily