KUCHING, August 26: Sarawak will remain backward if roads should not be built on peat soil, because most of the state’s terrain is peatland, said Pelagus assemblyman Wilson Nyabong.
Hence, he found it baffling when Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How cited “peat” as the reason why the proposed second trunk road should be shelved for now in favour of the proposed coastal road project, which is also over peat soil.
“See, on one hand, supports the coastal road project that is also built on peat areas, but on the other hand, he discriminates against the second trunk road because part of it is going through peat areas.
“Geographically, a huge chunk of Sarawak is peatland, and if the state government was to listen to See’s logic, a huge chunk of Sarawak would be left undeveloped,” said Nyabong in a statement.
He added that the state government needed to build infrastructure across peat areas, which are located between the coast and hinterland of Sarawak, to ease transportation and logistics issues faced by rural folk to get to urban centres.
Nyabong said if See, who was recently appointed special officer to the Works Ministry, was truly concerned about Sarawak having to spend a large part of its state reserves to build roads over peat areas, then he should solicit RM1.5 billion from the federal government: Putrajaya, while under the BN’s rule, had previously promised to pay for half of the cost of constructing the proposed Rambungan, Batang Igan and Batang Lupar bridges.
“If Putrajaya is pro-rural development, Sarawak-friendly and very concerned with Sarawak utilising its reserves for infrastructure development, it would not have been too much to request for the (proposed) Batang Lupar bridge to be fully borne by the federal government.
“Originally the Batang Lupar bridge project was supposed to be fully-funded by the federal government, but because of lack of federal funds, the state offered to pay half. I am sure as a special officer to the Minister of Works, See will support his minister’s vision of seeing more infrastructure development for the rural areas,” said Nyabong.
He reminded that the previous federal government was booted out because it did not live up to the expectations of the rakyat, so the Pakatan Harapan-led government should be more sensitive to the needs of Sarawak.
“The previous government said it would share the cost of building the Batang Lupar bridge. Maybe Pakatan, being a better government, is willing to bear the whole cost?” he suggested.
Nyabong urged See to get more federal development funds for the state as infrastructure development allocation was one of the reasons why the state agreed to help form Malaysia.
He also urged See to persuade the Dr Mahathir administration to return to Sarawak its oil and gas rights. — DayakDaily