KUCHING: Strategic masterplans have been drawn up to develop traditional rural areas in order to spur growth potentials and attract renewable energy investments.
Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) chief executive officer Datuk Ismawi Ismuni said the focus areas are in the central region to the hinterland and the state’s northern region.
“To attract investors, it is vital that we accelerate infrastructure development to drive socio-economic growth in the rural areas.
“This will serve as a foundation to support livelihood and employment opportunities of rural communities,” he said during the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean-BAC) Malaysia — Consultation Meeting with the Sarawak government and agencies here on Thursday (Oct 21).
The online meeting, chaired by Asean-BAC Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid, discussed efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), its existing priorities and future development plans, as well as opportunities that can be tapped in the larger Asean region.
Ismawi said the masterplans were also in line with Sarawak’s aspiration to be a developed and high-income state by 2030.
Recoda has been tasked to spur the growth potentials in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) which includes three regional development agencies — Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), Highland Development Agency (HDA), and Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA).
According to Ismawi, Recoda had created masterplans to develop Bakun, Belaga and Kapit under URDA, Mulu, Bario and the Integrated Highland Agricultural Station (IHAS) under HAD, and Sundar, Trusan, Merapok and the new Lawas Airport under NRDA.
He cited the Kapit Masterplan, which encompassed urban renewal and the expansion of a new township.
Under the masterplan, Kapit, which was previously only reachable by air or river transport is now accessible by road from Sibu, he added.
The Bakun masterplan focused on attracting investors with its proposed lakefront township and island resort.
“We want to take advantage of the (Bakun) lake, which is the size of Singapore to be developed as a tourism product,” Ismawi added.
On the masterplan for Mulu, he said it would involve the construction of a road network linking Miri-Marudi, Marudi-Mulu (Kuala Melinau) and Long Panai-Long Lama, Miri, which will vastly improve connectivity in the area.
“We have to travel by air to visit Mulu. With this masterplan, a road network will be constructed all the way to Mulu.
“In the next four years, tourists and visitors will be able to travel by road from Miri, and have the option to choose another route to places such as Long Lama.”
For the NRDA region, which is strategically located near Brunei, Kalimantan and Sabah, Ismawi said the state-funded proposed Northern Coastal Highway would improve overall connectivity.
Besides that, a master plan is near completion for the Lawas Deep Sea Port, which will support the oil and gas industry, including plans for the proposed Integrated Petroleum Chemical Complex in Lawas.
“Recoda is the implementing agency for infrastructure and socio-economic development projects in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) region, which covers 80% of the state’s land area.
“From 2019, we were entrusted by the state government to implement development projects in the regions overseen by the three development agencies with funds totalling RM4.5 billion,” said Ismawi.
He added there were a total of 268 projects being implemented including the construction of roads, bridges, water supply and socio-economic programmes.
Meanwhile, Awang Tengah, who is also NRDA chairman, said Sarawak aspires to be a developed state by 2030, with the state government outlining comprehensive development strategies to grow the state economy to RM282 billion by then.
He said that the Asean Economic Community (AEC) would benefit Malaysia through the creation of a single market of more than 600 million consumers, with free flow of goods, services, investments, capital and skilled labour within Asean member countries.
“This will benefit Sarawak particularly as we have common borders with Kalimantan Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. With the intended move of the Indonesian
capital to East Kalimantan, there would be plenty of business opportunities for both countries.”
“It is important that we have better road connectivity with Kalimantan to encourage more cross border trade and tourism within Borneo to achieve a win-win situation,” he said.