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KUCHING, August 25: The proposed Second Trunk Road is something roughly 122,220 people from Betong and Saratok and another 5,000 from Banting (near Sri Aman town) have been yearning for years, said Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) supreme council member Bell Bernard Aggan.
He said the proposed trunk road would link Sri Aman town to Sibu via Betong and Saratok, and this would provide the much-needed connectivity for the people.
“We are very excited about the proposal for the Second Trunk Road.
“For that, we fully support our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg; his three deputies, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ai Hasan; and all the Sarawak Cabinet ministers for their far-sightedness to provide road connectivity to those who needed it most,” Bell told DayakDaily here today.
The proposed trunk road is a state initiative and is estimated to cost between RM4 billion and RM6 billion. It serves as an alternative link between Kuching via Simunjan, Sri Aman, Betong to Sibu. In addition, it will also reduce the current seven-hour journey between Kuching and Sibu by at least 90 minutes.
Bell, who is also PBB Krian vice-chairman, believed the proposed trunk road would be value-for-money as it would open up more native customary right (NCR) land and generate greater economic opportunities for the people.
“These areas, as of now, are being denied of road access; therefore, they are denied the opportunity to be more economically productive as they could not open up their large tracks of NCR land for commercial use,” he opined.
On the suggestion by See Chee How, the special officer to the Works Ministry, to shelve the proposed trunk road for now, Bell said See did not know the benefits it would bring to the people.
“If the proposed road is scraped, then our people will continue to lag behind. On top of that, it would not be easy to connect both electricity and water to these settlements without road connectivity,” said Bell.
Thus, he hoped See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, would not pour cold water over the project but try to get more federal funding for this project and other infrastructure initiatives in the state.
Meanwhile, Sri Aman MP Datuk Masir Kujat said at least 5,000 residents from nine Iban longhouses in Banting have been using the river to get to the nearest towns, such as Lingga and Sri Aman.
He said the proposed trunk road would definitely catapult development in the area. — DayakDaily