Batang Lupar bridges ready on time, assures CM

Abang Johari signs a plaque at Wisma Sada witnessed by State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion (left), Rohani (right) and other dignitaries. Photo: Ukas

SIMANGGANG: Both the Batang Lupar Bridge and Batang Lupar 2 Bridge are expected to be completed according to schedule despite delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges faced.

Elaborating on some of the challenges faced, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the machinery used for piling works was from China, adding that the construction efforts were not easy due to the water current and soil.

“Nevertheless, I think it will be ready according to schedule. The bridges may be completed in three-and-a-half or four years’ time,” he said when officiating at the launching ceremony of Sri Aman Development Agency (Sada) here on Thursday (Oct 21).

He said these two bridges along with the Pan Borneo Highway and Coastal Road would connect Kuching to Sri Aman and on towards Lingga until Betong, opening up Sri Aman Division and also more areas for development, including in the agricultural sector.

He also noted that the Batang Lupar Bridge project had been cancelled by the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government, but the state government had continued this project and added the Batang Lupar 2 Bridge.

Highlighting the vast potential of Sri Aman Division, he said Sada had been established as a body to coordinate development and planning in the area.

“Sada will be given funds to realise development that can open up the economy in the Sri Aman area,” he said.

Abang Johari said he had suggested that Sada develop two key sectors in Sri Aman, namely agriculture and tourism, which could generate jobs and enhance the economy here.

Abang Johari (second left) arrives at the ceremony. Also seen are (from left) Rohani, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan; and Assistant Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Malcolm Mussen Lamoh. Photo: Ukas

“Sarawak wants to become a net exporter of food and we have a competitive advantage because of our land. Sri Aman has the potential as an area that can help us in agriculture and food production.

“What we need is to add value to the areas which we have identified such as Banting and its surrounding areas – this can become an agricultural hub,” he said.

In this regard, he said infrastructure needed to be developed, including roads as well as electricity and water supply, while the drainage and irrigation system must be improved.

In terms of tourism, he said there was Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Gunung Lesong, adding Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) would work together to upgrade the tourism infrastructure.

He said the integrated development approach in Sri Aman Division was a new concept, adding that this approach was in line with development and planning towards 2030.

“What we also want to implement is in terms of talent development or human capital, whereby we will ask universities to conduct field studies here,” he said.

Abang Johari said that as the economy here improved, the income of the rural community would also increase.

On Sada’s proposed development plan for Sri Aman Division, he said the implementation would take place over a 10-year period up until 2030 with a proposed total budget of RM4 billion.

During the ceremony, the chief minister also officially launched Wisma Sada. He was also presented with the Sri Aman Masterplan 2020-2030.

Also present at the ceremony were Batang Lupar MP Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who is also Sada chairperson; State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion; Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian and other representatives.