State govt allocates RM1.472b to transform Kapit, upper Rajang by 2020

Masing (third from right) presents a cheque to Andy Willson Anderu for winning the grand prize of the URDA motto competition.

KAPIT, Sept 18: The state government has allocated RM1.472 billion to expedite the development of infrastructure projects and utilities in the Rajang hinterland within the next two years.

The funds, approved by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on Aug 8, is the first of many high-impact, people-centric projects that would be implemented under the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA) initiative, which focusses on the road network, treated water and electricity supply.

“These projects will be a game changer in the transformation of Kapit and the upper Rajang landscape in the next two years. These projects will enhance accessibility to Kapit Division and spur economic growth in various sectors,” Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said at the URDA briefing session by Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) here today.

Masing (white shirt) and Ismawi discuss some of the projects that will be implemented in Baleh.

Recoda chief executive officer Datu Ismawi Ismuni briefed some 300 community leaders on development projects under URDA at Kapit Civic Centre.

Set up in April last year, the URDA initiative covers an area of 41,186 sq km, including Kapit, Bukit Mabong, Belaga, Song and Kanowit Districts.

The projects will benefit some 169,000 people in the three parliamentary constituencies of Kanowit, Kapit and Ulu Rajang, including eight state constituencies of Ngemah, Machan, Pelagus, Katibas, Bukit Goram, Baleh, Belaga and Murum.

Masing, who is also URDA chairman, said the priority projects that would be implemented between 2019-2020 resulted from feedback gathered at the grassroots level. A special three-day lab session was held in February involving local councillors, community leaders, and longhouse and village chiefs for input on development that needed to be carried out in their respective areas.

“Public engagement is important to enlighten the people on the ground on what the government is doing,” he said.

Masing lauded the state government’s effort to develop Kapit. Since becoming chief minister in January last year, Abang Johari had allocated some RM4.5 billion for projects, with some announced during his walkabouts in Kapit Division, while some in response to proposals received from the elected representatives based on the input of grassroots leaders.

A section of the crowd at the URDA briefing at Kapit Civic Centre.

Ismawi, in his briefing, pointed out the importance to expedite development in URDA areas, which made up to 41 per cent the size of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

“We need to build infrastructure to support industry’s growth. The state is aggressively pursuing commercial farming, tourism, food industry as well as focussing on downstream timber industries for added-value products in areas under URDA.

“We can strengthen the growth of SMEs, the energy sector and also set up new townships that can be catalysts of economic growth,” he continued.

On the breakdown of the RM1.472 billion budget, Ismawi said Ngemah would be allocated RM101 million for various projects, while Machan, Pelagus and Katibas were allocated RM120 million, RM212 million and RM210 million respectively.

Projects in Bukit Goram totalled about RM158 million, while Belaga and Murum received RM180 million and RM183.5 million respectively. About RM307.5 million would be allocated for projects in Baleh.

Some of these projects include road upgrades, the building of bridges and water treatment plants.

Ismawi acknowledged that completing the projects within two years would be a great challenge but expressed confidence the target could be achieved. He urged the people to cooperate with the authorities, government agencies and contractors throughout the implementation process. — DayakDaily