KUCHING, May 19: Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi has joined the bandwagon in criticising Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), which called for the Second Trunk Road (STR) to be cancelled.
He said cancelling the STR was tantamount to depriving the people in rural areas the opportunity to enjoy better infrastructure and accelerated socio-economic growth.
Julaihi said the cabinet had decided to proceed with the implementation of STR during a cabinet meeting on July 26 2018 via Pre-Qualification Conventional Tender for Construction, as part of the state government’s long-term plan to improve road infrastructure focusing on generating opportunities for socio-economic growth and new economic growth areas, among others.
“It is most regrettable that when we need to balance development between urban and rural areas in the state, PSB proposes to cancel the construction of STR, which is one of the mega projects in the state.
“It is disheartening that they (PSB) speak otherwise the moment they are no longer part of the government,” Julaihi, who is Sebuyau assemblyman stressed.
He added that PSB should not have the slightest agenda to cancel the STR just because they are on a different political platform.
Julaihi further explained that the STR serves to open new development corridors along with the coastal road network, besides connecting the missing link between Sebuyau to Simanggang via Lingga and to ensure effective involvement of Sarawak-led local contractors as well as Bumiputera contractors.
According to Julaihi, more than 60 per cent of Sarawak’s total population reside in regions between Kuching and Sibu with three major centres-Kuching/Samarahan, Sri Aman/Betong and Sibu/Sarikei.
The RM6 billion STR project will also shorten the travelling distance from Kuching to Sibu, he said.
“With STR, the distance from Kuching to Sibu is 225 km, compared to 312 km via the existing coast road and 440 km via the Pan Borneo Highway,” he said.
He further asserted that China was very advanced in development and moving fast because of its forward-looking leaders, who went all out to build infrastructure like roads to connect and traverse every corner of the country.
He added that Sarawak would be deprived of smooth development if Sarawak was going to be deprived of infrastructure projects like STR. —DayakDaily