Good road network vital to achieve holistic growth — Assistant Minister

Julaihi delivering his speech.

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, March 25: The Sarawak government looks at roads not only as a means to connect Sarawakians but also as a crucial component to spur the socio-economic well-being of the people and economic growth of the state.

Assistant Minister for Coastal Roads Datuk Julaihi Narawi stressed that roads were also very important to close the rural-urban development gap.

“The fundamental part of the state’s economic agenda revolves around increasing connectivity of its towns and its people,” he said at the opening of the Performance-Based Contracts (PBC) Workshop at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) this morning.

He told those present that the total length of roads in the state was 51,312km, of which 30,361km are state roads, 1,541km federal roads and 19,410km logging roads.

Julaihi touching the crystal ball as a gimmick to launch the PBC Seminar. CMS Group chief executive officer Dato Isaac Lugun is on the right while International Road Federation vice-president Magid Elabyad is on Julaihi’s right.

The challenges posed by these roads, he said, was huge, considering that the state government not only wanted to keep them in good condition but also to build more roads, especially in the rural areas.

“The state government’s budget of RM11.914 billion for 2019 is its largest to date. Out of that, over 75 per cent or RM9.073 billion has been allocated for development expenditure, while the remaining RM2.841 billion has been earmarked for operational expenditure, which includes road maintenance.

“What this means is our state is gearing up for higher economic growth as well as to achieve a more balanced economic development through rural transformation initiatives, walkabout projects as well as initiatives under the digital economy agenda,” he said.

On the PBC, Julaihi noted that it was result-oriented and focuses on quality and outcomes, which requires contractors to achieve a predetermined performance indicator for each category of work before any payment from employer or client is received.

“PBC is now widely used in developed countries and are recommended by the World Bank for the preservation and maintenance of road assets.

“PBC would also require contractors to ensure that all pavement defects are rectified and all blocked drains are cleared within specified periods,” he said.

International Road Federation vice-president Magid Elabyad (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Julaihi. Also seen in the picture is CMS Group chief executive officer Isaac Lugun.

On the other hand, the traditional Quantity-Based Contracts (QBC) would only require contractors to perform such works in fixed cycles.

This means that under a PBC, the employer or client would be assured that regardless of how many times pavement defects appear or drains blocked, the contractor is obligated to rectify the issues with no extra cost, whereas under QBC, any additional work over and above the contracted amount would be charged.

“In that sense, PBC would benefit the government more by having annual savings of between 10 per cent to 20 per cent, faster and better response time, higher maintenance standards, annual budgeting is easier thanks to fixed rates for different types of work, transfers the obligations and risks to work management from the state to contractor, and enables the contractor to incorporate new technologies and equipment,” he commented. — DayakDaily