S’wak Infrastructure ministry to absorb 68 retrenched LBU staff

Tan Sri Dr James Masing

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Feb 21: The state Infrastructure and Ports Development Ministry will absorb 68 retrenched Sarawakian engineers and supporting staff of Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU).

Its minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said a Cabinet paper is being prepared to absorb the affected staff, following the appointment of his ministry as the new superintending officer (SO) of the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project.

The Public Works Department has taken over the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project from LBU, the previous project delivery partner (PDP), following the termination of its contract effective yesterday (Feb 20).

“As the new superintending officer appointed by the Ministry of Works, we will need manpower to supervise the Pan Borneo Highway project. So, on our part, we are going to absorb some of the retrenched workers of LBU,” Masing said in a statement.

He said he would present the working paper during the Cabinet meeting next month.

Masing, who is also Sarawak deputy chief minister, expressed hope that the Works Ministry would find ways to absorb some of the affected workers.

Works Minister Baru Bian was reported as saying yesterday that some of the retrenched employees under the previous LBU PDP structure will be absorbed into a new project structure, with employment priority given to Sarawakians.

The Works Ministry has issued the termination notice to LBU for its services as the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway PDP on Sept 20, 2019.

The ministry has taken over the project completely through the conventional model with Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR) the SO and superintending officer representative (SOR).

Sarawak JKR will monitor project implementation, while JKR Malaysia act as the Independent Consulting Engineer (ICE).

Baru also said that the overall cost of the Sarawak section Pan Borneo Highway project has been reduced by RM2.865 billion using the conventional method compared to RM21.857 billion under the PDP.

After the termination of the LBU contract, the JKR conventional project cost is at RM18.992 billion, he revealed.

In this regards, Masing said he has no argument with the Works Minister over the cost of the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project.

“I would not enter into argument to its precise dollar and cents. However, it is suffice for me to say that whatever the balance of constructing the Pan Borneo Highway should be retained in Sarawak to build other infrastructures,” he continued. — DayakDaily