by Nigel Edgar
KOTA SAMARAHAN, Nov 12: The state government will set up the Integrated Regional Samarahan Development Agency (IRSDA) within the next year to strategize development of the region in and around Samarahan.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said since three development agencies have been set up in Northern Sarawak, it is high time that Southern Sarawak has one development agency as well to cater for the needs of the booming Kota Samarahan region.
“I have set up development agencies in Northern Sarawak in Hulu Rajang, Tanah Bukit and Lawas for RM1.5 billion. So Southern Sarawak is also asking what about them.
“So tonight I announce that we (state government) will also set up the Integrated Regional Samarahan Development Agency (IRSDA), integrated with Simunjan because this is the gateway,” he announced during the Kota Samarahan Municipal Council (MPKS) 2nd Anniversary Dinner here on Sunday (Nov 11).
Abang Johari said all elected representatives from regions in and around Kota Samarahan will be involved in the setting up of this agency to focus on development in the aforementioned region.
As for funds, he said it should not be any problem as the state now has extra income from the 5 per cent sales tax for petroleum based products which he announced when tabling the 2019 state budget last week.
Abang Johari also gave assurance that the sales tax would not burden Sarawakians because it is only to be imposed on export commodities.
“I will explain it in my winding-up speech in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting later,” he said.
Meanwhile, MPKS mayor Datuk Peter Minos said there is a need to rectify traffic congestion in Kota Samarahan especially along the Kuching-Kota Samarahan Expressway.
Among ideas which were proposed by Abang Johari earlier this year, but had to be shelved, was the Light Rail Transport (LRT), which Peter said should have been a good idea for people traveling between Kota Samarahan and Kuching.
In response to that, Abang Johari thanked Peter for supporting the LRT idea but unfortunately it had to be shelved for now to give priority to supplying treated water and electricity to the rural areas which were much more needed by Sarawakians.
Abang Johari said the LRT project may be implemented once the water supply and electricity projects are done.
“As long as we have funds, it will be possible. Hence the 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum based products is important for us,” he iterated.
Abang Johari said the three roundabouts along the Kuching-Kota Samarahan Expressway would be upgraded to smart traffic light intersections within next year, which would help ease the traffic. — DayakDaily