By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Nov 22: Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang has called on the federal government to prioritise the construction of the Trans-Borneo Railway connecting Sarawak and Sabah to Brunei and Indonesia, over the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.
Lo asserted that it was high time for the federal government to recognise the need for a Trans-Borneo Railway connecting Sarawak and Sabah to Brunei and Indonesia, as both States lag far behind Malaya in terms of road and rail transportation.
He also highlighted that Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has been pushing for the proposal to go through.
“Transport Minister Anthony Loke has agreed to a feasibility study. However, we would like to emphasise the need for prompt and tangible action, not just the carrying out of years of feasibility studies, which could be flushed down the drain again and again anytime there is a change of government,” he said when debating the 2024 Sarawak Budget during the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in the DUN complex here today.
Lo continued: “The railway project is of utmost importance to boost Sarawak’s economy. Indonesia is already improving its railway system in Kalimantan and if Sarawak does not do it, we stand to lose a great deal.”
According to him, the estimated cost of the railway was RM63.3 billion, which is lower than the estimated cost of RM110 billion for the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.
“I hope our Stampin MP can remind our federal transport minister that because Sarawak contributes RM80 billion annually to the national coffers, the KL-Singapore railway project should be set aside for now and ensure that the Trans-Borneo Railway takes precedence,” he said.
Furthermore, the Batu Kitang assemblyman stated that, in addition to connecting cities around Borneo island, the Trans-Borneo Railway can provide access to the interior for mining operations and raw material transportation, thereby accelerating the development of Sarawak and Sabah’s rural areas.
“The federal government cannot give lame excuses such as low population density in East Malaysia and non-profitability and try to shelve the proposal based on these excuses.
“Implementing public transport such as the one and only railway network in Sarawak should not be considered for profits at all, but as an investment by the federal government to improve the region’s wider economy.
“It is time to give back to Sarawak what is rightfully ours after 60 years of independence,” he said. — DayakDaily