By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Sept 25: The Northern Coastal Highway project linking Limbang to Lawas is poised to spur more trade and investment within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia and the Philippines East Asean Growth (BIMP-EAGA).
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan asserted that the highway will provide road connectivity which is crucial for the transportation and logistics sector in the region that is strategically located near to Brunei, Sabah and Indonesia.
“With this highway, it will allow us to foster greater trade and investment of BIMP-EAGA which will bring tremendous economic prosperity to the region.
“We have to bear in mind that the relocation of Indonesia’s capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan will have a major impact especially on cross-border trade involving Sarawak.
“The highway can also spur connectivity to new developments from the oil and gas industry such as the onshore blocks in Limbang which is still under study and the proposed oil refinery in Lawas,” he said in his speech during the closing ceremony of the Northern Coastal Highway Value Assessment Lab at a convention centre here today.
When asked by reporters, Awang Tengah who is also Second Minister for Urban Development and Natural Resources, said the Northern Coastal Highway project spans across 86 kilometres.
He added the project will help to spur the agriculture and tourism industries in the region once it is completed and being integrated with the Sarawak Link Road to enhance road and air connectivity.
Awang Tengah, who is International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, added agriculture produce from the hinterland in the region will be able to be transported out to the city centre before it is transported by air for marketing in other countries.
The construction of the highway project will start next year and is expected to take 48 months to be completed, he said, adding that the Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) has been tasked as the implementation agency for the project.
Awang Tengah who is Northern Region Development Authority (NRDA) chairman said besides the highway project, NRDA is undertaking 165 projects with a total of RM1.5 billion from the state government to strengthen infrastructure in the region.
Citing one example, he said the new Lawas Airport will serve to provide air connectivity to the Southeast Asia region.
On another note, Recoda chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Ismawi Ismuni said the Northern Coastal Highway project is meant for the betterment of the people particularly in the northern region of Sarawak.
He explained the Value Assessment Lab was held to find the best approach for the highway project implementation which took into account the socio-economic impact of the project for the people.
Among those present were Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah, Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang.—DayakDaily