By Peter Sibon
BELAWAI, July 6: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced today that a feasibility study will be conducted to extend the Tanjung Manis Airport next year to accommodate bigger aircraft in order to turn it into the ‘gateway’ for the Rejang delta region.
He said this would enable more tourists and businessmen to come to Tanjung Manis, as well as Belawai, as it has huge tourism potential.
“I would like to announce here that we will carry out the feasibility study to extend Tanjung Manis Airport next year to accommodate bigger aircraft, such as the ATR.
“I make this announcement because I can see the huge potential of Tanjung Manis as an industrial hub and Belawai as a tourism destination,” he told a packed audience at Karnival Pantai Belawai here today.
He envisioned that Tanjung Manis would become a major hub for various sectors in the Rejang delta region in the near future, with improved road network from Sarikei and a bigger airport.
“In a few years’ time, Sarikei will be connected with Tanjung Manis by road and a bridge across Batang Rejang as we have allocated RM320 million for the project. Once the project is completed, commuters can reach Tanjung Manis in 45 minutes and this will ease people doing business both in Tanjung Manis and here.
“On top of that, Tanjung Manis will also be connected to Matu and Daro as we are going to build a bridge across Batang Lassa.
“With improved infrastructure network, it will spur economic growth. Then we can provide more jobs for the local people,” he shared.
Abang Johari reiterated that Tanjung Manis and Belawai had grown by leaps and bounds over the last three decades.
“I used to come here more than 30 years ago as an assistant minister. There was no proper road then. But now, you have almost all the basic amenities, except to improve water and electricity supplies, which we will implement with the huge budget that we have allocated,” he said.
As for Belawai, he announced RM3 million to improve facilities for Belawai beach.
“I’m proud of the womenfolk of Belawai as their ‘kain songket’ has been acknowledged by our Queen during the exhibition last night.
“So, we will explore this industry further so that we can market it to bigger markets,” he said, adding that he would ask Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to assist in sourcing the stocks from Turkey to ensure that the price would remain competitive.
Abang Johari also revealed that the state government had invested some RM70 millions for reef balls to increase fish supplies in the state’s waters.
“With the abundance of fish, we can attract high-end fishermen to come here. And this will further boost the local economy,” he said.
On politics, the chief minister pointed out that locals must put their trust in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as it knows what the people needs and their aspirations.
“We have been with the people all this while. We are here to help the people to progress and not like ‘outsiders’ who will not know what the local people needs and aspirations are,” he stressed. — DayakDaily