KUCHING: Critics of Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing’s “no dam, no road” statement had missed the point on what he meant, Assistant Minister of Youth Sports Snowdan Lawan said today.
“Rural roads will be built.. eventually,” Lawan said.
“What Tan Sri Masing said and meant is that it would be faster to build those roads if they are linked to major projects like hydroelectric projects.
“The hydroelectric projects will hasten the construction of these roads,” the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth chief said in a statement in support of his president.
He said one other major factor to consider when planning rural roads is the budget.
“Budget constraint is one of the main factors why road constructions in rural areas are slower.”
Masing, who is also Sarawak’s minister of infrastructure development and transportation, had last Wednesday said work on the partially built Long Lama-Ulu Baram road in Baram had been stopped altogether along with the dam the people there had strongly opposed.
Masing had also pointed out socio-economic factor is a critical driver for the government, financiers, developers or investors, to start any mega project.
Lawan pointed to the ongoing construction of the mammoth hydroelectric dam at Baleh as an example, how a key large project could bring road to the area.
In this case, he said, the road is from Kapit town to the dam area.
“Communities along the road will be able to use that road later and it will help to expedite more networks.
“Masing never said no roads will be built in rural Sarawak if there are no dam projects there.”
Lawan said the criticisms against Masing was just “sensational unproductive criticism to gain political mileage and cheap publicity”.
“It does not bring good to the rural people.”
He urged the critics instead to propose constructive ideas and projects that would be able to improve socio economic life of people in the rural areas.
“The government of the day is trying its best to improve the way it manages its dam projects based on past experiences like in Bakun and Batang Ai.
“The projects should create more economic opportunities for the local communities in the affected areas.” – dayakdaily.com