By Ling Hui
KUCHING, April 10: The RM108 million Bebuling STOLport (short take-off and landing airport) in Spaoh will significantly cut down the travelling time for those who wish to visit Batang Ai.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the four-hour roadtrip from Kuching to Batang Ai can be cut short with the airport as the distance from Spaoh to Batang Ai is only about a 40-minute drive.
“I was a Tourism Minister before this, and back then very travelers were willing to go by bus from Kuching to Batang Ai because it used up over four hours. The distance is even further for foreigners.
“So that is why we build an airport, now tourists can travel to the nearby tourism spots easily and also visit Batang Ai to see the lake while enjoying the tilapia fish,” he said.
Additionally, he said the long distance has always been an issue for locals and tourists who are very interested to visit Batang Ai.
There was one time, he said adding on that he brought a group of some 40 doctors to Batang Ai and the only feedback they gave was the tiring four-hour drive to Batang Ai, not to mention another four hours on their return trip.
He added that it was necessary to have the Bebuling STOLport as an added convenience for travellers, apart from it being a transportation point to ship food produces and food products from Spaoh and Betong to other countries especially Singapore.
“The airport is important as a place where we export our food products because areas surrounding Betong will become Sarawak’s food baskets.
“We will have agroparks where we produce food and these will have to be sold directly to the market and it is not only in Betong, some of the good produce we will sell them to other countries,” he said during a ‘Janji Ditepati’ (Promises Fulfilled) working visit to Spaoh at Spaoh community hall here today.
The much-anticipated airport is expected to begin construction soon after its ground-breaking ceremony yesterday (April 9) and will be completed in 30 months.
With that, Abang Johari said the airport and identified agroparks would be developed to elevate Spaoh into a place where it can generate its own profit.
He said with a stable economy, the income will increase and with that, the livelihoods of the people will be guaranteed. — DayakDaily