Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan
BY NUR ASHIKIN LOUIS & NIA NATASHA HASENAN

KUCHING: The construction of the Northern Coastal Highway project stretching from Miri to Lawas is expected to commence next year.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the 86 kilometre highway project undertaken by Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA), is divided into four packages.

However, the project cost is still being assessed.

“The construction of this highway will take about 48 months with Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) being the implementing agency and Maltimur Resources Sdn Bhd (MRSB) acting as the project management consultant (PMC).

“This highway is very important as it will provide the much needed road connectivity for efficient transportation and logistics in the region which is strategically located near to Brunei, Sabah and Indonesia,” said Awang Tengah who is also chairman of NRDA.

He said this when officiating at the closing ceremony of ‘Value Assessment Lab for the Northern Coastal Highway’ at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) in Demak here on Friday.

The three-day lab programme was attended by 93 consultants from various fields together with 100 others comprising elected representatives and officers from various government agencies and stakeholders. The programme aimed at providing in-depth input and feedback on the highway project’s design, alignment, architectural works, mechanical and electrical works, utilities relocation works as well as socio-economic impact.

Awang Tengah who is also Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources cum Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development added that the highway would allow Sarawak to foster greater trade and investment within the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area) which would bring tremendous economic prosperity to the region.

“The highway can also spur connectivity to new developments from the oil and gas industry such as the onshore blocks in Limbang which is still under study and the proposed oil refinery in Lawas.

“Additionally, the Sarawak government is planning to develop the downstream oil and gas industry particularly petrochemical as well as petroleum and gas refining in Lawas district,” he added.

In another development, Awang Tengah also mentioned that efforts were underway to build Sarawak Link Road bypassing Brunei, which would be integrated into the proposed Northern Coastal Highway.

“The Highland Development Agency (HDA) which is also under Recoda is planning to implement the Sarawak Link Road project to connect Miri to Mulu.

“We have looked into the alignment and we have decided to have this Sarawak Link Road bypassing Brunei which is shorter in terms of distance compared to the proposed Sarawak-Sabah Link Road,” he stressed.

He also explained that the road would be built according to R5 Dual Carriage Way standard.

“It will connect Limbang to Gunung Buda where a road is already under construction. From there, the road will connect all the way to Lawas as well as to Long Semadoh and Ba’ Kelalan.

“In the future, we also plan to connect the road to Bario,” he added.

Among those present were Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Transport Deputy Minister Hasbi Habibollah, Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, Recoda chief executive officer Datuk Ismawi Ismuni, NRDA regional director Datuk Ubaidillah Abdul Latip and Limbang Resident Ahmad Denney.