Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: Funding for the state’s autonomous rail transit (ART) system, which is expected to be in commercial operation by 2025, will be provided under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said work on the system was now in progress and a newly formed government-owned company named Sarawak Metro was working out the details.

He said as the system did not run on rails but roads, the existing roads had to be widened so that there would be dedicated lanes for it.

“Originally, the cost of implementing the ART system was very expensive. The total was between RM8 and RM10 billion.

“But now due to the availability of new technology, the cost has been reduced. So the cost will be about RM6 billion (for Kuching),” he told reporters during a press conference after witnessing the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signing ceremony for joint venture development between UDA Holdings Berhad and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) at Grand Margherita Hotel on Tuesday (Sept 1).

Abang Johari explained that the ART project would be carried out in phases over a period of seven years.

“That means that if the cost is RM6 billion and it is divided by seven years, it will cost about RM1 billion a year.

“The planning is still on. It is part of the process … So we will build the stations and then order the trains from China,” he said.

He added the main ART station would be located somewhere at Jalan Kereta Api.

Meanwhile, SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain said the ART system for Kuching would cost less than RM6 billion.

“We will start with the trail run by 2023. As for the commercial operation, it will be sometime in 2025,” he said.

He said the routes would cover the Kuching- Samarahan areas and Kuching-12th Mile areas.