By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 10: Road accessibility within the Upper Rajang must be created first in order to pave the way for and enable other developments, including agriculture, to take place.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing highlighted this after witnessing the contract signing ceremony for six infrastructure projects for Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA) today.
“These first six out of 34 development projects to be implemented are within the URDA jurisdiction specifically Kapit, Kanowit, Song, Belaga and Bukit Mabong. The rest of the projects will come in as and when plans have been finalised,” he told a press conference at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) in Demak here.
The state government, he explained, has allocated RM1.5 billion to implement the 34 infrastructure and amenities projects in URDA which spans across 41,000 square kilometres within these two years.
“The projects should be tendered out by this year as next year should be the implementation stage. These kinds of projects will improve connectivity within URDA areas,” he said.
Masing, who is also URDA chairman, emphasised that building infrastructure is top priority and fundamental to opening up various areas for development, be it for agriculture or other industries.
“Social economic development will come with the infrastructure. What’s important is accessibility must be created first, (as) the rest will come by itself,” he said.
On rolling out the projects on a fast-track basis, he however stressed it will not compromise quality but be delivered according to the standard and requirement as per contract.
On the potential of Sg Tunoh, he pointed out that apart from tourism, the fertile land was good for farming as it was located at the foothills of the Hose mountain range which was once a volcanic area.
“It is therefore very suitable for cultivation of agricultural crops. The areas that are plantable as the terrain is more friendly is about 30,000 hectares at least,” he added.
“The road to link to Sg Tunoh which is a subsidiary from the Baleh access road that goes to the hydro dam is about 30km. We have to look for more funds (for the construction),” he elaborated.
Apart from improving road connectivity, Masing said air connectivity improvements were also in the pipeline following the state government’s decision to build a new airport in Tunoh costing about RM100 million.
“It (the airport) is designed to cater for a twin otter plane to ease transportation of not only goods but people at the same time. This will make Sg Tunoh very accessible,” he added.
He noted that Sg Tunoh which is surrounded by three huge dams — Bakun, Murum and Baleh — will hold a central part where security is concerned, and hopes the army can be brought in.
On the missing link between Song to Kapit, Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, said the road is under construction now and is expected to be ready by August next year.
“Nanga Ngungun to Song is about 9km. When completed, you can drive there all the way from Kuching,” he said.
Meanwhile, URDA is one of the development agencies under Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) that was established in 2017.
The tenders for URDA projects started in March this year with the tendering of six projects through open tender. The implementation of these projects will provide road connectivity that will benefit 24 longhouses.
The contracts were signed between Recoda chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Ismawi Ismuni and contractors for each project, namely Hock Seng Lee Berhad, Hanayin Engineering Sdn Bhd, WHE Contract Sdn Bhd, Davilla Construction Sdn Bhd, Kemudi Harta Sdn Bhd and Bumi Utara Construction Sdn Bhd.
Also present at the signing ceremony were URDA board members including URDA deputy chairman and Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Linggi Nanta and Assistant Minister of Water Supply and Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang. — DayakDaily