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KUCHING, May 31: The Sarawak government is looking at suitable logging and oil palm plantation roads to be repaired and upgraded as part of its efforts to link all settlements in the State with roads.
In a statement yesterday, Deputy Sarawak Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas gave his assurance that during this Hari Gawai Dayak, which is also a time of renewal, that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will double and re-double its efforts and commitment to better empower, in particular, the rural community.
He said all settlements including longhouses and villages State-wide would be linked up and in the pursuit of this, he had directed all divisional engineers of the Public Work Department (JKR) to identify and report to him all those settlements still without road.
“This obviously means more new roads need to be built. In addition, the government is looking at suitable logging and oil palm plantations road to be repaired or upgraded.
“The JKR in a workshop on State road data in March this year said Sarawak has a total of 6,521 settlements. Of them, some 3,819 are connected while 1,388 are connected but their roads need upgrading. Some 1,314 others do not have any road.
“For the record, Sarawak has currently 30,650km of State and 1,591km of federal roads. Of these, 5,645 kilometers are in satisfactory condition while upgrading is deemed necessary for 4,200km kilometers,” said Uggah who pointed out that the earlier figures do not include private oil palm plantations and timber camp roads.
He said there is a proposal to construct about 6,000km of new roads to complete the State-wide loop which the Sarawak government targets to achieve by 2030.
“Without the roads, those settlements and their vast and rich hinterlands will remain our last frontiers,” said Uggah.
He believed that this year Gawai Dayak is one which will be most excitedly anticipated, awaited for and celebrated after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic with Sarawakians living under tough restrictions.
“This year with our top-notch mass vaccination programme, the restrictions are diluted. But I must remind all we are not out of the wood yet. Covid-19 is still haunting us.
“Let us remain vigilant and be on our best guard so that we can celebrate Gawai next year or all other festivities with even greater freedom and joys. So let us all continue to uphold the existing SOP (standard operating procedure) strictly,” said Uggah. — DayakDaily