Putrajaya should fund border security road

Masing talks about the various road projects during the press conference.

KUCHING: The border security road network along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border should be funded by the federal government as it is not just a Sarawak border but a Malaysian border, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

He said the project, estimated to cost RM24 billion, would be proposed under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

“The state government has already approved that we should go ahead — now it is just a question of the funding,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“This border highway will hug the border from Sematan all the way to Lawas, a stretch of about 1,000km,” he said.

At the same time, he said the Second Trunk Road (STR), coastal highway, and nine bridges would cost the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government a total of RM11 billion.

Masing who is Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, said there were 11 packages for the STR, including bridges.

“The location (for the STR) is already given. So by 2025, it should be done,” he said, adding that the coastal road and nine bridges were also expected to be completed by 2025.

A map showing the coastal road, Second Trunk Road, and Pan Borneo Highway.

On another note, Masing said that Bawang Assan assemblyman Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who was now disagreeing with the STR, had previously not said anything when the project was tabled to the Cabinet.

“Wong was with us in the Cabinet at that time when we discussed this. He did not say anything; no dissention means he agreed, and yet now he disagrees with the project,” he said.

He said the nine bridge projects were coming up rather well and as planned, noting however that the Covid-19 pandemic had slowed progress slightly. Nevertheless, he assured that the projects were gradually picking up again.

He added that the construction of all these roads — the coastal road, STR, and Pan Borneo Highway — would benefit much of Sarawak’s population as about 60 to 70 percent of the state’s population were centred in this region.

The benefits, he said, would include shorter journey durations which would also save cost.

He also pointed out that some construction expenses had been saved with regard to the development of these projects due to the well-designed alignment of the coastal road and STR, allowing a number of bridges to be shared by the two routes.