By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, May 18: The construction of the Second Trunk Road (STR) will provide greater economic development in the rural areas of Sarawak as well as jobs for Sarawakians.
Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi said in a press statement the infrastructure project would create a network of enhanced and integrated socio-economic activities once it is completed.
He said the construction of STR is expected to open up new development corridors along the Coastal Road (CR) Network and connect them to other existing development corridors such as Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Tanjung Manis Economic Growth Area (T-MEGA) and Samalaju Industrial Park.
“Infrastructural projects such as STR besides the CR including all the bridges are amongst the most awaited projects by our rural Sarawakians, especially amongst the coastal, riverine and rural population.
“Visiting and talking to those living in the affected areas will give us the clear insight of their high hopes and expectations.
“As such, I cannot imagine the reaction and frustration of our rural people if such projects are to be cancelled as proposed by Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB).
“The anger and frustration of our rural populace are evident when construction of Batang Rambungan bridge, Batang Lupar bridge and Batang Igan bridge were delayed due to their cancellation by the previous Federal government which were eventually taken up by the Sarawak government,” he said.
He cautioned that frustration could be exacerbated if STR were to be cancelled this time around.
“It is most regretted that when we need to balance the development between urban and rural areas of Sarawak, PSB had proposed to cancel the construction of STR, one of the mega infrastructural projects undertaken by the Sarawak Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government.
“It is disheartening that they speak otherwise the moment they are no longer part of the Sarawak government,” Julaihi said when responding to the recent statement by PSB calling for the state government to cancel the construction of STR which is estimated to cost RM6 billion.
Julaihi who is Sebuyau assemblyman believed the people staying along the Coastal regions will undoubtedly benefit from the construction of STR.
With better road connection and accessibility, he opined that rural community will have better opportunities to increase their income and enhance their standard of living.
He gathered that those in the affected areas have been eagerly waiting for the construction of STR besides CR and the Pan Borneo Highway which are aimed at improving connectivity in the near future.
Julaihi opined that if the state government do not build STR in the near future, the project might be more expensive to be constructed at a later date.
He asserted the construction of STR together with the CR and the Pan Borneo Highway will be game changers for Sarawak.
With more development and economic activities anticipated along STR, Julaihi believed the project will bring a more balanced development between the urban and rural areas in particular, in the Sadong, Samarahan, Batang Lupar and Saribas River basins as well as towns such as Betong, Saratok and Roban and towards Sarikei and Sibu regions.
Hence, he noted that it is timely and deserving for the rural areas to be provided with good road connectivity.
“We may opine that RM6 billion is a huge amount of money to be spent only on infrastructure.
“In reality, this mega project is helping our own Sarawakian contractors and consultants to establish under the guidance of project management consultants.
“With the experience gained in collaborating with international or non-Sarawakian players in project management and monitoring, we may have our own Sarawakian expertise, independent of outsiders.
Overall, the development of these infrastructure networks will permanently improve the quality of life, create more high-income jobs and moving the whole socio-economy of the coastal region up the value chain,” he observed.
Julaihi emphasised the implementation of the STR project is part of Sarawak government’s long-term plan to improve the network of road infrastructure focusing in generating opportunities for socio-economic growth, new economic growth areas as well as development of local Sarawak technical talents.
He noted the infrastructure project is also expected to significantly boost socio-economic activities of major towns. – DayakDaily