Chong to Nanta: Kuching-Samarahan Expressway jam is torture, not mere inconvenience

Chong during a visit to the TT3 roundabout on Jan 2, 2023.

KUCHING, Jan 4: Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen has told Works Minister Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi not to shirk his responsibilities over the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway upgrading project as the traffic congestion resulting from the construction is not merely a matter of “inconvenience anymore but torture”.

This came following Nanta’s statement yesterday (Jan 3) clarifying that the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway traffic light project is a Sarawak government project and not a federal one in response to Chong’s call on Nanta to prioritise the progress of the said project as well as implement measures to ease the unbearable traffic congestion faced by commuters.

“While the Minister of Works tried to wash his hands clean by saying that the construction work is carried out by JKR (Public Works Department) Sarawak and has nothing to do with him, he seems to have forgotten that both the Federal and State Ministers of Works are from GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak), the same party that governs Sarawak. While he is the secretary-general of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the State Minister of Works is (Datuk Amar) Douglas Uggah who is PBB’s deputy president.

“Don’t tell me that as a Minister of Works, he (Nanta) could not request his colleague or the State JKR to be more efficient and effective in the traffic management of the construction site,” he hit back in a statement today.

Chong (second right) and Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii (second left) visiting the TT3 roundabout on Jan 2, 2023.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP, stressed that commuters using the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway have suffered the worst traffic jams in weeks, with many having to sit in the slow-crawling congestion for more than two hours.

“While we, as road users, understand that there is always some level of inconvenience caused by any road construction project, the level of ‘inconvenience’ suffered by the road users along the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway caused by the construction work is just unbearable.

“It is not just a matter of ‘inconvenience’ but ‘torture’,” he said.

Chong also noted that JKR Sarawak has implemented two measures to ease the traffic jam by carrying out certain works at night or public holidays and improve traffic management in the area.

However, the Padungan assemblyman also urged the authorities not to conduct road closures during the day time unless absolutely necessary, and to mobilise more traffic police and even People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) members to help direct the traffic flow.

With the huge GPS’ election victory in 2021 and the huge number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers appointed to the federal government, Chong said the people would expect both the State government and the federal ministers to be more responsive to the sufferings of the people, not pushing off responsibilities and keeping quiet.

“While I am grateful that the JKR has yesterday issued the press statement accepting our suggestions to ease traffic jams, all I ask of now is for JKR to immediately put them into action. Do not sit on the suggestions while people are suffering,” he urged. — DayakDaily