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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, May 8: The state government has completed a traffic study on five roundabouts with the aim to ease congestion along the Kuching/Kota Samarahan Expressway.
As a short-term measure, the government will construct two punch through roundabouts (a technical term meaning building a road through an existing roundabout) with traffic lights. The remaining three will be upgraded to traffic light intersections, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing.
The construction plan will commence by the end of this year, he added.
Masing, who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister, said the state government would also construct an alternative road by-passing Kuching Central Business District from Petra Jaya to Kota Samarahan with a new bridge crossing Sungai Sarawak within the vicinity of Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), upstream of Senari Port.
“Traffic congestion is an ever-growing problem in our cities and towns in Sarawak. Therefore, we must take this matter seriously and urgently.
“I was briefed by a traffic management consultant that transportation in Kuala Lumpur is 75 per cent private versus 25 per cent public, while Singapore is 33 per cent private versus 67 per cent public.
“Kuching, meanwhile, is 96 per cent private against four per cent public. Unless we are serious about our traffic management, Sarawak will suffer traffic gridlock in 10 years’ time,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting here today.
Masing said a proposal would be submitted to the state government to engage a local Traffic Management Specialist Consultant to carry out a traffic study in Greater Kuching as well as Kapit town before it is linked to the rest of Sarawak by October 2020.
“There is also a dire need for the Sarawak government to have a Traffic Management Division in my ministry to be headed by experts in managing our traffic flow,” he added.
Masing noted that traffic congestion in Greater Kuching was getting worse by the day. The traffic gridlock is experienced everywhere during peak hours and the worst is along the Kuching/Kota Samarahan Expressway.
He deemed road users as lucky if they could drive at 10km per hour along this expressway. Such congestion is both a waste of time and fuel and can cause tremendous stress and frustration to both the drivers and passengers alike, he said.
He pointed out that a town like Kapit, which was not connected by road to the rest of Sarawak, does not escape the woes of traffic congestion. During peak hours (6am-8am and 5pm-6pm), Kapit is experiencing at least a kilometre-long queue on both sides of the traffic light signalised junctions.
“Sarawak is the ‘victim’ of its economic success. Economic success in terms of excess money to be spent leads to an increase in the number of vehicles on the road. In 2018, we have about 68,000 registered new vehicles with about 22,000 newly registered drivers in Sarawak. The consequence of such an increase in the number of vehicles is traffic congestion.
“This is a glaring indicator that Sarawak is undergoing a tremendous economic transformation like other states in Malaysia. Traffic congestion does not only occur in our cities like Kuching and Miri but also in our rural towns,” Masing said. — DayakDaily