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By Karen Bong
LAWAS, Oct 30: The 77 kilometre Sarawak-Sabah Link Road costing RM1.13 billion will not only bring the two Borneo “siblings” closer together in proximity but it will be the game changer for Northern Sarawak, especially enabling the opportunities and access to trade, investment and tourism when completed in 53 months’ time by January 2026.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that a comprehensive development for the Northern region of Sarawak has been carefully planned to connect with Sabah and uplift the socio-economic status of the area which has great potential.
“We are a Malaysian Family and Sarawak and Sabah are brothers who were the last to join our siblings in Peninsula Malaysia which are now well developed.
“As such, it is time as Sarawak and Sabah also want to enjoy the high level of development such as that in Peninsular,” he said during the earth-breaking ceremony for the construction of Sarawak-Sabah Link Road Project (Lawas to Long Lopeng junction section) here today.
Abang Johari was reminded of the words of the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem or Tok Nan which he was fondly known for, who once said, “We in Sarawak want highways like those in Peninsula as well… not just Peninsula have highways and here don’t have highways.”
Before the launching of the Pan Borneo Highway, Tok Nan also mentioned that, “If we take a car from Kuching to Limbang, our back bones will break. But if there are highways, we want the ones with the quality of the Peninsula.”
Abang Johari added that although there was a “short circuit” for 22 months (after the Pakatan Harapan government took over), he was grateful for the close collaboration between the State and Federal government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and now Dato Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to be able to continue bringing development to Sarawak.
“With the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road, Lawas and Limbang will not be sidelined anymore which is why I set up NRDA chaired by Datuk Amar Awang Tengah (Ali Hasan) to focus on the development here,” he said.
More importantly, he pointed out that the State government through Northern Region Development Authority (NRDA) is also building the coastal highway that will connect Limbang including Gunung Buda area to Lawas as well as Marudi to Mulu.
“Furthermore, this Link Road will also be connected to the Pan Borneo Highway. This means the entire region will be connected by roads by 2026 including Ba’ Kelalan to Bario.
“This is our target by 2026 for all areas to be covered with at least a standard road. This will not only improve road connectivity but also economic activities especially agriculture and tourism sectors,” he said.
These efforts, he added, symbolised the Malaysian Family where the Federal and State government work together for the benefit, wellbeing and prosperity of the people.
While efforts are ongoing to connect electricity supply through the Pan Borneo Highway and water supply to Lawas through the water grid expected to be completed between 2024 and 2026, Abang Johari was optimistic it will attract a lot of investors to Lawas.
“There are already interests from oil and gas companies to invest in Lawas. So this is the future of Lawas with a new airport that will become the gateway to investors to Northern Sarawak.
“The future of both Sarawak and Sabah is bright with this link,” he added.
Senior Works Minister Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan as well as representatives from Public Works Department (JKR) and Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) were among those present. — DayakDaily