Taking over federal projects resulted in RM1.1 billion in opportunity costs for state govt, says Masing

Masing (back row, centre) witnessing the exchange of documents between Ismawi (left) and Hock Seng Lee Group managing director Dato Paul Yu.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 10: The Sarawak government would have roughly RM1.1 billion of its own funds to allocate for other developments if it did not have to take over several major federal government-funded infrastructure projects that have been deferred or withdrawn.

Nevertheless, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing emphasised that the state government had to step in because without this infrastructure, there would be problems with the coastal highway development.

“There will be no connectivity. So the state government decided that we cannot allow our promise on building the coastal highway (to the people) to be broken. We don’t want the connectivity to be disrupted,” he told a press conference today.

The infrastructure projects under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ports Development that were affected after the federal government halted funding were the Batang Rambungan bridge, Batang Igan bridge and Batang Lupar bridge.

The Batang Rambungan bridge costs about RM142 million, the Batang Igan bridge (RM305 million) and the Batang Lupar bridge (RM866 million).

“It was promised all these projects would be financed by the federal government except for the Batang Lupar bridge which was based on a 50:50 sharing basis with the federal government,” Masing, who is the Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, explained.

“But the state government had to take over the projects. Whatever it is… that’s why we (state government) are very disappointed because we lost the chance of putting the money somewhere else,” he pointed out.

Masing however gave assurance that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will source the funds to finance the projects which are fundamental to ensure socio-economic development in Sarawak continues to thrive and flourish.

“GPS government promised, GPS government (will) deliver,” he added.

Earlier on, Masing witnessed the contract signing ceremony for Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA) infrastructure projects.

These first six out of 34 development projects to be implemented covers URDA areas, specifically Kapit, Kanowit, Song, Belaga and Bukit Mabong.

The tenders for the URDA projects started in March this year with the tendering of six projects through open tender. The implementation of these projects, will provide road connectivity that will benefit 24 longhouses.

The contracts were signed between Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Ismawi Ismuni and contractors of each project, namely Hock Seng Lee Berhad, Hanayin Engineering Sdn Bhd, WHE Contract Sdn Bhd, Davilla Construction Sdn Bhd, Kemudi Harta Sdn Bhd and Bumi Utara Construction Sdn Bhd.

Also present at the signing ceremony were URDA board members including Urda deputy chairman and Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Linggi Nanta and Assistant Minister of Water Supply and Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang. — DayakDaily