KUCHING, Dec 18: Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing lambasted Works Minister Baru Bian for his slow response to complaints on the Pan Borneo Highway, especially along the Selangau stretch.
The Bintulu MP said that while it was good to know that the Minister of Works had finally decided to experience the actual conditions of the highway himself, his response came at a late hour to the people’s detriment.
“His obliviousness to the conditions outside his home in Selangau highlights the disappointing response to the highway’s problems.
“It shows that this so-called minister is clearly dissociated from problems faced by the public in his backyard.
“Can he even be relied upon to solve all the problems affecting the Pan Borneo Highway project?” queried Tiong in a statement today.
He said Baru’s recent complaints on the Sibu-Selangau Road was “entirely not new”.
“Obviously, the Minister has not been receiving the memo on the substandard quality of the highway project, even though hundreds of complaints have been aired through mainstream media, social media and even raised in parliament.”
He said the complaints on Pan Borneo Highway were not raised recently although he had been raising issues related to the Pan Borneo project in Parliament numerous times over the last one-and-a-half years.
He pointed out that there were safety defects and deficiencies in the road project.
“I have even raised complaints with the local Public Works Department (JKR) but to no avail.”
Tiong also said that Baru’s recent statement was contradictory to his own previous statements expressing satisfaction and lavishing praise on the progress of the highway project.
“Has he not been monitoring the situation of the highway project?
“Is he unconcerned with the numerous safety hazards threatening the lives of commuters and road users?
“It is high time for the Minister to get behind the scenes and get the solutions to the issues as soon as possible and stop fishing for media coverage by making more visits to the affected project sites,” said Tiong.
Tiong said Baru’s so-called surprise inspections should be done on newly completed road sections or as soon as complaints were received from road users.
“If all issues are left to the contractors to resolve without any supervision, what’s the point of the Works Minister?”
Tiong warned the Works Ministry of the frequent usage of the highway during the upcoming Christmas and Chinese New Year festive seasons.
“With so many festive holidays coming soon, how will JKR ensure the safety of motorists and resolve the existing potholes and distressed sections?
“Furthermore, these poor road conditions drastically lengthen driving times; it takes 5 hours to drive from Miri to Sibu and with the journey from Sibu to Kuching taking 12 to 13 hours, a flight to London is quicker.”
Tiong believed that Baru must now prioritise a review of the construction and maintenance guidelines, apart from keeping the contractors to their ethical and contractual obligations to ensure the safety and quality highway.
“The contract provisions must be re-examined and contractors must be held responsible for resolving road issues, not just be given ‘stern warnings’ through the newspapers or social media.
“I sincerely hope the Minister does not wait another year before making another ‘surprise inspection’ or perhaps dozens of lives could be lost in that time.”—DayakDaily