Sarawak section of Pan Borneo Highway expected to be completed by June 2022

Baru (second left) handing over the appointment letter to Zuraimi.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 20: Construction of the Sarawak section of the Pan Borneo Highway (PBH) was meant to be finished by June 2021 but is now pegged for completion in June 2022.

Works Minister Baru Bian emphasised that looking at the actual progress of the project to date in comparison to the original contractual progress under Project Delivery Partner (PDP), there appeared to be delays.

“But after engagement with stakeholders, including Work Packages Contractor (WPC) who pledged to do their best, it seems there may be some delays which would push the dates back to between May to August 2022.

“Now we (Works Ministry) have taken over and with some facts discovered, we view that it could be completed by June 2022,” he told a press conference today.

He also expressed confidence in meeting the new timeline of June 2022 with cooperation and accurate reports from WPC as well as other stakeholders.

Baru had earlier on handed over the letter of appointment to Public Works Department (PWD) Sarawak to be the Superintending Officer (SO) in implementing the state’s section of the PBH project.

With the end of Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) contract as the highway’s Project Delivery Partner (PDP), effective today (Feb 20), the PBH Sarawak project will now be implemented through conventional method, where the Works Ministry will take over the implementation of the project in collaboration with the federal PWD and the PWD Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Public Works Department (PWD) Sarawak director Datuk Zuraimi Sabki stressed that a new targeted completion date for the project can only be determined after an evaluation and audit have been carried out to verify the works and progress.

“In our engagement with the WPC and other stakeholders, we found that there were many different timelines and expectations on the project delivery and work progress, with some even up to December 2021 and August 2022.

“So within the next three months in this transitioning period, we will review and dissect the entire project so we can come up with the details and properly set a new completion date,” he said.

But at this juncture, Zuraimi observed that the estimated range for the completion time was most likely between June to August 2022.

According to PDP progress report on January 2020, the actual progress of the project was 44.21 per cent against scheduled progress of 47.82 per cent in order to meet completion date of Aug 30, 2021, which indicated a two- month delay from contractual completion set in June 2021.

However, according to study by PWD Sarawak and Opus (ICE), which used PDP’s Works Programme, in January 2020, the actual progress of the project was 45.81 per cent against 61.23 per cent with new completion schedule in December 2021.

As for the appointment, PWD Sarawak will be responsible for monitoring and supervising the implementation of the highway project as well as managing the administration of contracts.

The Superintending Officer Representative (SOR) will be responsible for assisting SO in monitoring and executing the project.

Baru pointed out that the new direction taken to implement the highway project was a testament of the federal government’s commitment to continue developing the infrastructure for the development of the state and the well-being of the people.

“Through the conventional method, the federal PWD will act as an Independent Consulting Engineer (ICE) in advising the Works Ministry and PWD Sarawak to ensure compliance with the technical specifications and periodic audits.

“The Works Ministry will also oversee the continuation of the construction work on the 11 WPC and the re-appointment of 40 consulting contracts by the government based on the remaining current contractual terms,” he added.

The termination of project implementation through the PDP contract aimed to reduce the financial implications borne by the government through the utilisation of expertise via the Technical Agency (PWD Sarawak and federal PWD).

In addition, it is also expected to enhance the project implementation’s structure by maintaining the necessary consultancy contracting services without compromising the scope, security and sustainability of the project.

In addition, Traffic Management and maintenance during construction plans will be improved through direct and ongoing monitoring by the ministry and PWD Sarawak.

PBH Sarawak is part of the Trans Borneo Highway which will link with the 786.41km PBH in Sabah, the 425 km Sarawak-Sabah Link Road Network (SSLR) and 40km highway from Kalabakan to Serundong in Sabah.

The highway will also be connected to Simanggaris in Kalimantan (Indonesia) by the 3,901km Trans-Kalimantan Highway South, eventually encompassing the whole of Borneo, connecting nearly every coastal town and coastline in Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), Indonesia and Brunei.—DayakDaily