By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 13: The ongoing construction of the 32km Sungai Bidut-Tutus-Sebedil-Kampung Bungan Kecil road that cuts across Bawang Assan, when completed, will greatly reduce the travelling distance and time from the coast to the interior of Sarawak.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing shared the disappointment that Sungai Bidut-Tutus area was still devoid of development and without any apparent road connectivity even after 30 years.
“On Oct 20 this year, I visited a longhouse at Sg Bidut-Tutus. Instead of using road as I do now to Kapit, the way to reach the longhouse in Bawang Assan, still remains like what it was some 30 years ago, which was and still is via a vessel along Igan River,” he said.
He thus emphasised that the road project traversing the whole stretch of Bawang Assan at the cost of RM340 million, even though it is an opposition area, reflected that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has always been fair in delivering development projects throughout Sarawak.
“A journey from Mukah to Kapit, for example, would take less than five hours and vice versa.
“Kapit folks could then enjoy the beaches in Mukah whilst sampling umai and other Melanau delicacies with just a few hours of drive.
“Imagine how this will benefit our local communities when domestic tourism activities such as these, start to flourish and this is what development means under the GPS government,” he informed the august House in his winding-up speech today.
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, then pointed towards the newly completed 110km Sibu-Kapit road which has physically connected Kapit with other parts of Sarawak.
In the motorbike expedition led by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on Oct 4 from Sibu to Kapit, he shared that the journey via the new road only took about one hour 44-minutes compared to the three-hour long express boat ride.
“Only a few years ago, Kapit town was only reachable via riverine transport. It was a town with cars despite no road connectivity to anywhere else (link to other parts of Sarawak). Kapit was so isolated that vehicle owners just left their keys and vehicles by the roadside without any fear of theft then.
“Today, Kapit’s entire landscape has changed. Hence, my advise to visitors to Kapit, please do not leave your vehicles unlock as Kapit is no longer an island.
“Very soon, Kapit will be connected to the interior with the construction and completion of more than 200km of roads under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP),” he said.
GPS government, he added, will also look at ways to expedite the construction and completion of the Coastal Road Network and the Second Trunk Road in view of the strategic roles, positive impact and benefits these roads will bring to the people once completed.
Under the two major construction programme, he informed that 10 out of 13 bridges have been awarded and under construction while another three were still under documentation stage where a decision has yet to be made.
“With the completion of the Coastal Road projects, the economic potential of our coastal areas will be enhanced as the area the road traverses will present economic opportunities for development of large-scale agricultural and aqua-culture projects.
“And the Second Trunk Road project will complement the Coastal Road and Pan Borneo Highway road network. Apart from shortening the travelling time from Sibu to Kuching by 2 and a half hours, it will open up Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands and settlements located between the Coastal Road and Pan Borneo Highway,” he added. — DayakDaily