KUCHING, Jan 4: Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s fear that the federal government may push the responsibility of maintaining federal and protocol roads to Sarawak may actually materialise.
This is because at a press conference in Penang today, Works Minister Baru Bian said he would talk to state governments about the possibility of covering the cost of construction and maintenance of federal and rural roads using their own funds this year, given the tight national budget.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Baru emphasised that finding maintenance funds for federal roads had been a problem and hoped the state governments could step in to resolve it.
“I am sure there are leeways where we can cooperate with state government, given the economic challenges,” Baru said at the Malaysian Highway Authority northern region office in Georgetown.
Federal and rural roads are usually maintained through funds from the Works Ministry and the Rural Development Ministry.
Funds for the maintenance of state roads comes from the State Road Grants provision under Article 109(1) (b) of the Federal Constitution.
The funds are placed under Marris or Malaysian Road Records Information System. They are placed under the trust handled by state governments.
Baru opined that opening Marris funds to all roads would be the best idea. It would be highly beneficial for road maintenance in rural areas, especially in Sarawak’s ‘Jiwa Murni’ roads, which are in a bad state.
He said most of the rural roads in Sarawak were built by the federal government but were not given Marris funds for their maintenance.
Hence, the Selangau MP and Ba’Kelalan assemblyman said logically, all roads should be eligible to apply for Marris funds.
“I am glad to hear there is some kind of development in Sarawak now, and the state has changed the rules to include Jiwa Murni or kampung roads to be eligible for Marris funds,” Baru added.
Earlier today, Wan Junaidi argued that Sarawak should not be made to shoulder the burden of maintaining federal and protocol roads in the state for it is the responsibility of the federal government.
“It’s the Ministry of Finance (MoF) responsibility to maintain all federal roads and protocol roads,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.
He also expressed concern on what would happen to the Pan Borneo highway when completed and questioned if the federal government would also say there was no money to maintain it. — DayakDaily