State govt targets ART system to hit the road in 3 years’ time

Lee (second left) receiving a calendar as a souvenir from Cheng (in red shirt). Also seen is Zhang (left).

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 24: The Sarawak government is targeting to roll out the smart driverless vehicle on autonomous rapid transit (ART) system in three years’ time as a detailed study as well as project planning on its implementation are being undertaken.

Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin emphasised that a proper study must be done in order to successfully implement the intelligent transportation system to connect greater Kuching.

“The ART project is in the initial planning stage, including looking into the route designs, the type of vehicles suitable to be used here and so forth. A consultant has been engaged to study the feasibillity,” he said.

“Instead of laying the tracks (for the vehicles to run on), we need to build dedicated lanes or roads so there will be no obstruction for a safe and reliable (public transportation) service. The lane can be shared with buses,” he added.

Lee highlighted this during a press conference after receiving a courtesy call from China’s Consul-General in Kuching Cheng Guangzhong and Bank of China East Malaysia Regional general manager Zhang Hongkun at his office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur here today.

Lee disclosed that they discussed China’s modern transportation system especially ART technology which is currently being implemented in six cities in China as well as ideas on developing and improving the riverine transportation in Sarawak.

“Cheng will assist in arranging and facilitating my visits to study these modern modes of transportation in China as soon as everything at my ministry has been settled,” he said.

Elaborating on the ART system, Lee revealed that the state government decided to use the ART system as the cost to develop the trackless system was only one-third of a light rail transit (LRT) system.

“But we must have the infrastructure in place first in order to put smart, intelligent vehicles on the roads.

“With the present technology in China, a hybrid vehicle with a five-carriage train provides space for about 500 passengers. It can travel up to 35 kilometres with one charge at a maximum speed of 70km per hour,” he explained.

As for riverine transportation, Lee remarked China’s developed waterway transportation system for both goods and passengers also helped to reduce congestion on its roads.

“Here in Sarawak, we also have many rivers. So China is a good model for us to study (as a) river transportation system, how to maximise the use of waterways, as well as modern facilities of wharfs and jetties,” he said.

“So the ministry needs to look into improving our riverine transportation as well, with modern whafts and jetties as there are many people still relying on it. But we must do a proper study first for anything new,” he added.

However, he said the priority now will be urban traffic management.

Since his appointment, Lee revealed, he has been busy getting input and feedbacks from various stakeholders in the transport industry including shipping, ship builders, bus companies and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

“The bus companies have shared their issues and challenges while the senior academics from Unimas proposed research on urban transport management,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cheng said that besides discussing cooperation in the transportation sector between Sarawak and China, they spoke on establishing friendship state status between Shandong Province and Sarawak.

“Shandong is one of the biggest provinces in China for agriculture, maritime and culture. The (establishment) of friendship states (Sarawak and Shandong Province) will be helpful for economic growth on both sides as there is much potential for cooperation,” he added. — DayakDaily