No major projects, no roads in Ulu Baram says Masing

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (seated, second from left) with some of the representatives receiving the government grants from him. - dayakdaily.com

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said it is unlikely that the government will build the Long Lama-Ulu Baram road unless there are some major projects in the Baram interior.

“We must understand that it is very expensive to build the road to cater to a few longhouses. You’ve got to look at what are the end or benefits if we build that road,” he said to reporters after handing over government grants to 21 non-governmental organisations, social clubs and welfare associations at his office here, today.

He said the people of Baram must make up their minds whether they want the Baram dam to be built so that the people of Baram and the rest of Sarawak will benefit from it or they still oppose its constructions.

Masing, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, was asked to comment on a call by Telang Usan State Assemblyman Dennis Ngau for the government to build the road to connect Ulu Baram with the rest of Sarawak.

The then Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem cancelled the construction of the Baram dam following strong objections from NGOs and a large number of the local population in 2014.

Masing said the road to Ulu Baram could have been built had the people of Baram not objected to the construction of the Baram dam.

“It is unfortunate that those groups that stopped the construction of the Baram dam will have to understand that the dam is a game changer for the people of Baram.

“The dam is the only way to attract the government to build the road. That is why I am very keen to make sure that the Baleh dam is built,” he said, adding that without the Baleh dam, the road to connect Baleh with the rest of Sarawak will not be built so soon.

“Which means that if there is no dam, there will be no road to Baleh because the dam is to finance the road, provide electricity for the industry including the ordinary users in the whole of Sarawak,” he said, adding it is not only the people of Baleh, but the whole of Sarawak will benefit from the Baleh dam.

He said the road from Kapit to the Baleh dam is expected to be completed in three years’ time.

He said certain packages of the construction work on the Baleh dam have already been awarded while the clearing work on the dam site is in progress.

The Baleh dam is scheduled for completion by 2025.