Works Ministry looks at re-employment, compensation among options for laid-off LBU employees

Baru fielding questions from reporters.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Feb 20: The Works Ministry has plans to absorb employees affected by the termination of Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) as the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project delivery partner (PDP).

Works Minister Baru Bian said some of the individuals working under the previous LBU PDP structure will be absorbed into a new project structure.

However, employment priority will be given to Sarawakians, he added.

“The government is concerned on the welfare of workers affected by the PDP termination. Efforts to absorb these individuals to ensure the smooth continuation to the implementation of the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project will be carried out.

“Priority will be given to Sarawakians. We will look into how best we can assist them. We already have plans for them,” he told a press conference after launching the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project direction here today.

When asked whether compensation will be provided for affected individuals that would not be absorbed in the new project structure, Baru said the ministry will review the labour laws and regulations on the rightful action and any compensation they are entitled to.

The Works Ministry issued the termination notice to LBU for its services as the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway PDP on Sept 20, 2019, which took effect today (Feb 20).

The ministry has taken over the project completely through the conventional model with Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR) as the Superintending Officer (SO) and Superintending Officer Representative (SOR).

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

It is believed that some 500 LBU employees were laid off following the termination of its PDP contract. Retrenched workers included those working at LBU headquarters and 25 site offices throughout Sarawak.

LBU was awarded the Pan Borneo Highway Highway project for RM16.488 billion in 2015. The project, spanning 786.4km from south to north Sarawak, consisted 11 work packages.

One of the work packages from Telok Melano to Sematan (32.77km) at the most southern Sarawak, was completed last year.

It has been reported that the termination of the PDP contract would not affect the main contractors after their agreements would be novated.

Following the termination of the PDP, the government managed to reduce construction cost of the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project by RM2.865 billion.

“The RM16.488 billion is the total cost of the project construction excluding reimbursable PDP fees, ICE fees, contingency cost and land acquisition. Once these are factored in, the total project PDP project cost capping was at RM21.857 billion.

“After the termination of the LBU contract, the JKR conventional project cost is at RM18.992 billion,” Baru said.

He added that the project, originally scheduled to complete by June 2021, is expected to be completed in June 2022 following the handover of the project to JKR.

The current progress is at 44.21 per cent. —DayakDaily