Datuk Julaihi Narawi

KUCHING: Datuk Julaihi Narawi has told Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh not to have any slightest agenda of cancelling projects such as the Second Trunk Road (STR) project “just because you are on a different political platform now”.

“Do not be cruel to the needs of our rural population and ironically, you served as wakil rakyat in the rural constituencies,” the Infrastructure and Port Development Assistant Minister said.

He told Wong, the former Second Finance Minister, who is also Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president, that it was uncalled for him to suggest that the government cancel the STR project.

“For the sake of our politics of development and a fair share development in the rural areas, do not have any slightest agenda of cancelling such projects just because you are on a different political platform now,” he added.

Julaihi said the implementation of the STR project was part of the state government’s long-term rural development strategic planning.

“It aims to improve Sarawak’s network of road infrastructure focusing in generating opportunities for socioeconomic growth, new economic growth areas and also development of local Sarawak technical talents and to significantly boost socioeconomic activities of major towns.

“The people staying along the coastal regions will undoubtedly benefit from increasing income and thus bring living standards up to the level of Malaysia’s wealthier states by 2030, while closing the income gap between the rural and urban areas as well as alleviating poverty,” he added.

He said on the whole, the development of these infrastructure networks would permanently improve the quality of life, create more high-income jobs and moving the whole socioeconomy of the coastal region up the value chain.

According to Julaihi, the proposal for the STR project was deliberated at length during several state Cabinet sessions and the Cabinet requested the Infrastructure and Port Development Ministry, state Public Works Department and the Cost Committee to study thoroughly the STR proposal, covering both technical as well as financial aspects.

During its session on July 26 2018, the Cabinet decided to proceed with the implementation of the STR Programme via Prequalification Conventional Tender for Construction (Design by JKR Appointed Consultants) (conveyed vide MIPD memo Ref: MIDT/MMKN/C/6/2018(31) dated 2nd August 2018).

He said the Cabinet decided that as a matter of policy, development of road infrastructure facilities should be prioritised based on economics, availability of resources, and cost benefits.

It was attested that Wong, the then Second Finance Minister, was present at the meeting.

Julaihi said acknowledging Sarawak’s vast land size, the development infrastructure facilities needed to take into consideration the access and connectivity of areas to export market through developing links to ports and airports.

More than 60 per cent of Sarawak’s population are residing in regions between Kuching and Sibu, with three major population centres, namely Kuching/Samarahan, Sri Aman/Betong and Sibu/Sarikei.

He said the proposed construction for the completion of the STR project was a significant infrastructure undertaking by the state government with an estimated project cost of RM6 billion.

The main objectives of this project are as follows:

  • The proposed STR would significantly shorten the travelling distance and time from Kuching to Sibu as summarised in Table 1.

Table 1

DescriptionVia Existing Coastal Road NetworkVia Pan Borneo HighwayVia Second Trunk Road (via package A & C)
Distance from Kuching to Sibu312km440km225km
Travelling time5 hours (excluding time taken for ferry crossings)5 hours2.5 hours
RemarksBased on design speed of 60km/h (JKR R3 Standard)Based on design speed of 90km/h (JKR R5 Standard)Based on design speed of 90km/h (JKR R5 Standard)
  • The proposed STR would significantly shorten the travelling distance and time from Kuching to Betong as summarised in the Table 2.

Table 2

DescriptionVia Pan Borneo highwayVia Second Trunk Road (via Package A & B)
Distance from Kuching to Betong235km142km
Travelling time2.6 hours1.6 hours
RemarksBased on design speech of 90km/h (JKR R5 Standard)Based on design speed of 90km/h (JKR R5 Standard)

(c) The proposed STR provides efficient connectivity by:

(i) Connecting the missing link between Sebuyau to Simanggang via Lingga under Package B1 & B2; and

(ii) Provide vital link between Coastal Road Network and Pan Borneo Highway via Roban under Package A5.

(d) The STR also serves to open up new development corridors along the Coastal Road Network and STR while linking to other existing major development corridors namely, Sama Jaya High Tech Park, Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Tanjung Manis Economic Growth Area (T-MEGA) and also Samalaju Industrial Park; ultimately creating a network of enhanced and integrated socioeconomic activities.

He said the consideration towards the implementation of the Second Trunk Road project was also to ensure the effective involvement and participation of Sarawak-led local contractors as well as Bumiputera contractors’ participation in the project.