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KUCHING, Jan 13: Progressive Democratic Party president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has expressed scepticism over whether Works Minister Baru Bian can ensure that the Pan Borneo Highway could be completed as scheduled by next year.
“I can’t help but be sceptical with Baru’s announcement that the highway will be completed next year once the Pan Borneo project is helmed by the Sarawak Public Works Department under the purview of the federal government.
“He had also previously claimed that an estimated RM1.2 billion can be reduced in project cost, which is the wrong priority. What the people ultimately want is a usable and safe highway. It is counter-productive for the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government to focus on reducing costs which result in delivering subpar work on a project that still suffers from endless delays and defects to this day,” according to Tiong here today.
He also questioned Lanang MP Alice Lau’s ability to assist in the completion of the mega project.
“Her recent appointment as chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), must also be held responsible for the highway’s safety aspects.
“With Chinese New Year just around the corner, has Lau considered the Pan Borneo’s huge traffic volume increase’s implication on road incidents? It is plain to see that the Pan Borneo still lacks a lot of notice boards, warning signs, street lights and even road surface markers. Has Lau forgotten her own constituents after receiving a federal appointment?” Tiong questioned.
He also challenged Baru to resign if he is not able to resolve the issues as well as to complete the project on time.
“These problems with the Pan Borneo are not unsolvable. But the PH government is criminally slow in ensuring construction quality is up to specifications and safety measures are put in place. All of these can be attributed to human factors.
“It is also clear that the engineering staff under Baru’s ministry has repeatedly failed to provide effective oversight on the project and its contractors.
“If Baru can’t do the job, he should resign as Works Minister immediately. (This is because)…the Pan Borneo Highway has become a tired story with complaint after complaint of potholes, hazardous road surfaces, and sub-par building quality without any sign of a happy ending,” he claimed.
Tiong also claimed that for the past 10 years, the hazardous road conditions have caused commuters to lose patience and confidence that PH can be relied on to ensure the much-anticipated highway can be satisfactorily completed as promised.
“We have seen only a few public relations stunts put up by PH leaders of well-publicised visits to the so-called repair sites of the project, but no actual repairs and improvements can be seen. Obviously, Baru and his staff seem to have also totally dismissed road users’ despair and anger on the state of the highway.
“I am as amazed as the road users with the lack of urgency that PH leaders like Baru has shown with the highway project.
“They had personally inspected the site and declared that they were also dissatisfied with its conditions and that the relevant contractors needed to be more diligent with the build quality. But there has been no further action past this point and errant contractors have been allowed to collect their payments without making the necessary repairs.”
He also questioned why the PH government has failed to take the safety of road users and voters’ demands into consideration.
“The people only want to use the highway to travel safely. Is this demand beyond the reach of PH or are they hiding anything?” — DayakDaily