By Adrian Lim
MUKAH, Sept 12: The Sarawak government will build nine bridges across the state to link up the whole road connectivity from the southern region to the northern region of Sarawak.
The construction of nine bridges with an estimated cost of close to RM2 billion is expected to reduce travelling time for road travellers while giving residents in the coastal and rural areas greater access to healthcare and more income and business opportunities.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said out of the nine bridges, four of them are located in the Mukah district while the bridges are expected to be completed within the next four years.
The four bridges located in the Mukah district are Batang Igan, Batang Muara Lassa, Batang Paloh, and Batang Rajang.
“It’s is not a dream. I have worked hard and since I became the Chief Minister, I have launched four bridge construction projects,” he said in his speech prior to the ground breaking ceremony for the Batang Igan bridge project here today.
He added that the state government planned to connect Kuching to Igan through the Coastal Road project.
Thus, he said to link up Kuching to Igan, the state government will implement the Batang Rambungan bridge, Batang Lupar bridge, Batang Saribas bridge and the Batang Sungai Krian bridge projects.
Abang Johari added that to connect Mukah to Bintulu, the state government will also build the Batang Kemena bridge project.
With the construction of the nine bridges across Sarawak, he said residents residing in the coastal and rural areas will not have to use ferry services while all the bridges are toll-free.
He said the Batang Igan bridge project, with an estimated cost of RM300 million will become the symbol of unity for the people of Sarawak.
Earlier, Abang Johari said the construction of the Batang Igan bridge had been planned a few years ago to be implemented by the former Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government.
However, when the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took power, he said they cancelled the project.
As a result, he explained that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government had to take over the implementation of the project from the federal government.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing in his speech said the Batang Igan bridge project was supposed to be implemented under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2015-2020) by the federal government.
Nonetheless, he said the project was labelled as a delayed project by the previous PH government.
Therefore, he explained that the state government under the leadership of Abang Johari took over the project and will be implemented by the state government.
He added that the state government under Abang Johari will be developing Sarawak rapidly through a comprehensive road infrastructure network programme.
Masing who is also Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister said under the Coastal Road network connectivity programme, the travelling time from Daro to Mukah can be shortened to one hour and forty five minutes from the current three hours’ time.
He added the state government is also implementing the construction for a new road that will link Kuching to Sibu through a new alignment called the Second Trunk Road (STR) programme.
He noted the new alternative road will shorten the distance from Kuching to Sibu to approximately 210 km.
Masing said the alternative route will also reduce the driving time from Kuching to Sibu to about two hours and thirty minutes from the usual six to seven hours.
He added upon the completion of the STR, it will complement the Coastal Road network project in Sarikei to Sibu or Tanjung Manis including travelling through the Batang Rajang bridge.
Masing believed the distance from Kuching to Igan via Pulau Bruit and Daro will be shortened to approximately 385 km making travelling through roads faster.
He added that under the STR programme, the Sarawak government has allocated RM6 billion for 12 projects out of which one project is under construction, one project pending for award and five projects in the process of finalising the appointment of contractors.
“The construction of the remaining projects under the STR is expected to start by the early next year.
“The proposed construction of the Coastal Road network and STR will encourage and significantly boost trade activities of major towns and the rural population which overall will raise the living standard of the rakyat,” he said.
Among those present at the event were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Infrastructure and Ports Development Assistant Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, Modernisation Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, Jemoreng assemblyman Datuk Juanda Jaya, Igan MP Ahmad Johnie Zawawi and community leaders. —DayakDaily