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KUCHING, August 23: “That is our (state government) decision. No need to respond.”
That’s what Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said when newsmen asked him to comment on See Chee How’s recent call to the state government not to implement the Second Trunk Road project for now but to concentrate on the proposed Coastal Road and the proposed Pan Borneo Highway.
The chief minister pointed out that the Second Trunk Road project was a state initiative; thus, the state government has a say in it.
During a press conference on Aug 19, See, who is both Batu Lintang assemblyman and special officer to the Ministry of Works, opined that implementing all three projects simultaneously would exhaust the state’s coffer — so it is best to shelve it until the other two projects are completed.
“The state government appears to have indulged itself in a spending spree, but certain pricey projects are questionable, especially those that are not of significant priority nor strategic. One such lavish project is the proposed Second Trunk Road project,” See had said.
Two days after See gave the suggestion, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said the road portion of the Coastal Road project was actually an upgrade of the existing coastal road to improve the state’s connectivity to cope with current demands.
“I would like to stress that the road portion of the Coastal Road project planned in 1986 was actually completed in the 1980s to 1990s. They are being upgraded now that Sarawak has grown over the years. The balance of work is to complete the Coastal Road connectivity network by building bridges to replace ferries,” said Masing.
He added that the whole Coastal Road connectivity was supposed to be completed within the next five years, but the Pakatan Harapan government had classified infrastructure development as “no longer a priority” and rural development “non-critical”.
Pointing to four bridges that formed part of the Coastal Road connectivity network, Masing said since the federal government was no longer interested in building them across Batang Rambungan, Batang Igan, Batang Kemena and Batang Lupar, the state had no choice but “to utilise our own money to build these bridges”. — DayakDaily