KUCHING, April 25: Criminal intimidation and threats of physical harm by previous transporters are among the reasons behind the delay in the delivery of seven essential items to Bario under the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs transport subsidy programme.
Its Deputy Minister, Chong Chieng Jen, said the ministry’s investigation revealed this to be the case, besides inaccessible road conditions due to rain.
He said the previous transporters even threatened to burn the transport vehicles of the new transporters; hence, causing the new transporters to hesitate to supply the goods.
“Upon receiving the complaints from the new transporters, the ministry’s officers gave the assurance to the new transporters that the ministry will not succumb to gangsterism and that the ministry will stand by the new transporters to fight such acts and whatever sabotage these people may do to our transport subsidy programme,” Chong said in a statement today.
He said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would no longer allow local thugs to control or influence the ministry’s transport subsidy programme.
“After the assurance was given, the new transporters proceeded with the supply of these seven essential goods yesterday.
“By today, these seven essential items are sold in the Bario region at the same price as sold in the city areas,” he said.
The seven essential items are liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), diesel, RON95 petrol, sugar, rice, flour and cooking oil.
He said under the transport subsidy programme, the ministry would pay the transporters the whole cost of transportation to supply the aforementioned items to rural Sarawak so that their prices sold at these remote places would be the same as those sold in urban, i.e. a 14kg LPG cylinder tank should be sold for only RM26.60.
This year, RM140 million has been allocated for this programme, out of which about RM80 million is allocated for Sarawak. The transporters were picked through the open tender system and awarded the contracts on April 1.
Chong said a total of 1,444 applications were received, but only 79 were appointed as transporters for Sarawak.
“Amongst those not chosen were the previous transporters for the Bario zone, who were previously appointed through the direct negotiation process,” he said.
In reply to Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala’s allegation of the failure of the PH government in implementing the transport subsidy programme, Chong believed that Gerawat, as the assemblyman for the area, must be familiar with the personalities involved and hoped he would advise them accordingly.
Chong said on the part of his ministry, its enforcement officers would work closely with the police to ensure that the transport subsidy programme would be implemented smoothly and that the ministry’s appointed transporters could carry out their obligations safely. — DayakDaily