By Nur Ashikin Louis
SRI AMAN, Sept 4: Work Package Contract 04 (WPC 04) of the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway (LPB) project to upgrade the stretch from Pantu Junction to Batang Skrang is expected to be fully completed by the first quarter of next year.
WPC 04, undertaken by Naim Gamuda JV Sdn Bhd as the main contractor, is divided into Sri Aman and Bukit Begunan sections with 46.4km and 44.7km of road work, respectively.
It also involved the construction of nine bridges, including Batang Lupar Bridge and Batang Skrang, as well as the Sri Aman Interchange.
Senior Minister of Works Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof said although most parts of the package have been completed, the remaining parts, especially in Bukit Begunan, will take some time for completion.
“This is due to the need to re-design because the earth structure at the site requires a new design for us to build the road alignment.
“Insya-Allah, according to the schedule, the whole Sri Aman Section will be fully completed by the first quarter of next year,” he said when officiating at the opening ceremony of Sri Aman Flyover, which is part of the Sri Aman Section held at the site here today.
He further said the flyover is about 1 km long, involving 19.4 hectares of land.
“I believe that with the opening of the flyover, it will benefit not only the people of Sri Aman and Betong but also those in Lachau, Temudok, Engkilili and Skrang,” he added.
At the same time, Fadillah, also Petra Jaya MP, stressed that many challenges led to the Pan Borneo Highway construction project worth RM16.1 billion, which had commenced in 2015 and was initially scheduled to complete this year, to stretch until next year.
One of the reasons was following the change of government where the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government terminated the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) approach, and the implementation method was changed from remeasured to ‘lump sum’ contract.
He also mentioned that the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the project delay as the construction industry also had to comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP).
“From here, there are works which can be implemented while some were prohibited.
“Secondly, when the borders were closed, many foreign workers could not return to the State after returning home for a holiday, especially on Hari Raya Aidilfitri in 2020.
“Thirdly, many quarry operations and so on are blocked, and this caused the construction supply chain to be affected. The situation also worsened due to the occurrence of the Russia-Ukraine war, which led to the sudden increase in the price of goods, including the price of construction materials,” he emphasised.
Amongst those present were Sarawak Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development (Infrastructure Development) Aidel Lariwoo and Lingga assemblywoman Dayang Noorazah Awang Sohor. — DayakDaily