Premier launches first phase of Kuching Urban Transportation System project

Abang Johari (third right) and others looking at the miniature model of the KUTS project.

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By Nur Ashikin Louis and Ling Hui

KOTA SAMARAHAN, Dec 16: The first phase of the Kuching Urban Transportation System (KUTS) project, which involves the construction of a 69.9km route for the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART), has been launched today.

Phase 1 is divided into three urban lines, namely the Blue Line — a 27.6km route from Rembus in Kota Samarahan to Hikmah Exchange in Kuching city centre; Red Line — a 12.3km route from Kuching Sentral to Pending; and Green Line — a 30km route from Pending to Damai Central in Santubong.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg launched the KUTS project in a ceremony here at the proposed site for Rembus Depot, a depot facility for the Blue Line.

Model made by Sarawak Metro to showcase the ART lines in Kuching, Serian and Kota Samarahan divisions.

According to Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain, the Rembus Depot will be built on an 80-acre site, which will also house the depot for the KUTS Project’s hydrogen feeder buses as well as SEDC Energy Sdn Bhd’s hydrogen production plant.

“Other facilities to be built at the Rembus Depot include an administration and operation control station building, stabling yard, hydrogen refuelling facilities, mechanical workshop, Infrastructure workshop, and test track facility.

“The Rembus Depot is scheduled to begin operation in the fourth quarter of 2025, coinciding with the opening of Stage 1 of the ART passenger service for the Blue Line,” he said in his speech at the same event.

The Sarawak government has entrusted SEDC’s subsidiary, Sarawak Metro Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Metro), to implement the KUTS Project, which aims to minimise and alleviate traffic congestion in Greater Kuching.

Under the project, Sarawak Metro will introduce the ART, which is powered by hydrogen fuel cells, where a hydrogen-powered feeder bus network will also support the system to provide first-mile and last-mile connectivity for KUTS.

The first hydrogen-powered ART vehicle will arrive in Kuching in the third quarter of 2023 for Sarawak Metro’s proof-of-concept exercise for the vehicle, which is scheduled to be held in July 2023.

Meanwhile, the passenger service for ART is scheduled to be introduced in stages, starting in the fourth quarter of 2025.

Abang Johari, in his remarks, mentioned that with the ART system, Sarawak would have the first-ever hydrogen-powered ART in the world.

On the design, he explained that the driverless vehicle is similar to a train except that it runs on tyres instead of rail tracks. It also has coaches connected to each other.

“The budget (for ART) is more or less RM4 billion or RM5 billion. It takes about five to six years to complete. In other words, if you spread it out for five years; (it is about) RM1 billion per year,” he said.

At the launch, the Premier also unveiled the logo for the KUTS Project, which was designed by Dr Atta Idrawani from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

He also presented compensation cheques to landowners affected by the development of Rembus Depot.

During the event, Sarawak Metro also held the exchange of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) documents with several parties, namely Universiti Teknikal Mara Sdn Bhd (UniKL), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), and Centre for Technology Excellence Sarawak Sdn Bhd (Centexs).

These MoUs are for collaborations under Sarawak Metro’s Socio-Economic Enhancement Development (SEED) Programme, which aims to add value to the procurement activities for the KUTS Project and provide a platform for research and development and knowledge sharing, particularly in creating a pool of skilled manpower for the transportation industry.

Abang Johari (centre) witnessing the MoU exchange between Sarawak Metro and Centexs.

Among those present at the event were Deputy Premier and Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin; Federal Deputy Minister for Rural and Regional Development Malaysia-cum-Kota Samarahan MP Datuk Rubiah Wang; Sarawak Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Abang Hipni; Sarawak Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development Aidel Lariwoo; and Sarawak Metro chief executive officer Mazli Mustaffa. — DayakDaily