KUCHING: The construction of the Sungai Sarawak-Sejingkat Bridge and Second Kuching-Samarahan Trunk Road will not only reduce traffic congestion along the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway but will also connect various points along the coastal highway.
Caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the project was part of the 14 bridges and coastal road and second trunk road network projects undertaken by the state government.
“The other main road that will connect up to Sebuyau is from Saramahan. There will be the construction of a dual carriageway between the existing road near the Samarahan Bridge – Tambir junction, and this will go right up to Sebuyau and will enable people to use the coastal road,” he said in a press conference after officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony for the project concerned at the construction site along Jalan Bako on Sunday (Nov 21).
He said all these infrastructure developments were ongoing and would cost about RM11 billion, and take up to five years to complete from now until 2026.
“Once all of these are completed, it will increase economic activities within all sectors, among others, tourism, agriculture, services,” he said.
Earlier, in his speech, Abang Johari said that as the state government plans all development projects such as bridges and roads, it also sees how these can impact the people and surrounding areas.
“When we see Saramahan, it is developing very fast with two universities there, Sarawak Heart Centre, High Technology Park, and the latest Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC).
“There are people from Samarahan who work in this area (Sejingkat) thus causing traffic jams (along Kuching to Samarahan).
“That is why we build this bridge and road to connect Sejingkat to Samarahan and from Samarahan it connects directly right up to Sebuyau, Sibu as well as Miri,” he said.
He added that despite the cancellation of the Batang Lupar Bridge and Batang Igan Bridge projects by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, the state government decided to take over projects for the benefit of the people.
“We are able to fund these projects because of the extra revenue that we collect from the imposition of the State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products,” he said, adding that in three years, the state had collected RM7 billion from the SST.
Abang Johari said that the state would always find a way to increase the state revenue and that it was important to have alternative funding.
“When Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is given the mandate again (in the coming state polls) I will set up a Sovereign Fund.
“We will do it, and will bring it up to the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) (to be passed),” he pointed out.
He added that if there was no revenue from oil and gas resources, the state would still have the sovereign fund and not go bankrupt like what had been claimed by some parties.
“My intention is to develop Sarawak. There may be challenges along the way, but there must be a way to overcome it,” he said.
Most importantly, the chief minister said the people must remain united and Sarawak must have a strong and stable government in order for Sarawk to be developed and achieve the status of a high-income state.