Monday, June 10, 2013

Sarawak gives priority to improvement, upgrading of Pan Borneo Trunk Road

Sarawak is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of independence through the formation of Malaysia this year. And looking back, the people have every reason to celebrate the golden jubilee with the great sense of progress and achievements, whatever the opposition and outsiders may say about it.

On Independence Day, September 16, 1963, 50 years ago, Sarawak had only about 600Km of roads, in the major towns of Kuching, Sibu and Miri. Then the main mode of transportation was river transport.

Today, the road network has expanded by 50 times to over 30,000Km. The network does not only link up cities and towns but has been extended to rural and coastal areas. It has been able to link coastal villages and remote interiors even to neighboring Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Sabah.

Certainly, the much improved road connectivity has greatly reduced travel time and costs, lowered the cost of living and improved the overall quality of life of the people. This cannot be denied by all concerned.

However, Sarawak, being a large state with the land surface almost as big as Peninsular Malaysia, still has a long way to go. Besides, the population density is only 20 persons per square kilometer. The topography featuring undulating terrains in the interior and deep peats and large rivers in the coastal and central regions, which are unmatched in peninsular Malaysia, is indeed very challenging in development.

Therefore, it is a very tall order to connect kampungs and longhouses in nooks and corners of the state by roads. Hence, the State government to give priority to extend the road network to remote and isolated areas at the expense of quality. Besides, many of the sealed roads have exceeded their design life and conditions are deteriorating. In addition, some of the roads are still gravel surfaced that require frequent re-gravelling. The roads will be sealed in stages subject to the availability of fund. 

Kampung Buloh/Sebuyau Coastal Road, Samarahan Division
Members of the Opposition, with their focus and interests only on urban areas, have been very quick to blame the government for not developing the highway and generally constructing low quality roads even in urban areas. Admittedly, the State government has been developing JKRR3 and JKRR5 roads in order to make as many rural and remote areas as possible to be accessible by roads.

For example, the immediate priority is to expedite the development of reliable and efficient connectivity and accessibility to coastal settlements as most of the areas have been opened up for palm oil estates; the ultimate long term plan is to build bridges across numerous river crossings along the coastal trunk road.

Today, a total of 813 Km of coastal road has been completed. Ferry services are being provided pending the construction of bridges.  The latest addition is the ferry crossing at Batang Lupar. Besides, ferry services have been provided at Rambungan; Batang Samarahan; Batang Sadong; Batang Lupar; Batang Saribas; Sungai Krian; Batang Paloh; Muara Lassa; and Batang Igan.

The State is subsidizing over RM45 million each year to operate these ferry services, which are much welcomed by the people as they enhance connectivity and mobility.

The Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication, Dato Sri Michael Manyin anak Jawong, in his winding speech during the recent sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, says  the upgrading of 4-lane Pan Borneo Trunk Road from Sematan to Lawas remains the priority of his Ministry.  Hopefully, the new Minister of Works, a fellow Sarawakian, will be more appreciative of efforts to realize this very important plan.

Meanwhile, work on the improvement and upgrading of Pan Borneo Trunk Road is on-going exercise. To date, the Federal Government has approved an allocation of RM245.5 million under RMK10 to improve the road. This amount includes the sum of RM140.5 million to upgrade the portion of the trunk road in Limbang Division to JKR R5 standard. A total of RM40 million was for the rehabilitation of 29.3 Km  Bintulu/Miri Road, which was completed last year, while  RM35.5 million is for the rehabilitation of 27.3 Km of Sibu/Bintulu Road, which is expected to be completed soon. 

Jalan Mulukun/Ng. Gaat (Phase I), Kapit Division
A total of RM22.5 million is for the construction of overtaking lanes at 10 selected locations, which are in various stages of planning and implementation. A total of RM7 million is for the construction and repair of Siburan and Tarat overhead bridges and the repair of embankment failure at Km 77 Semukoi off Jalan Kuching-Sri Aman, which has recently been completed. 

Dato Sri Manyin says work is in progress for the replacement of arm core cowbirds in Lawas, the replacement of six arm core cowbirds and resurfacing of a stretch of 3 Kmf road and the rehabilitation of 10 roads in Limbang.

The Ba' Kelalan, the Bario/Ba'Kelalan Road is being implemented by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) under the Ministry’s Jiwa Murni Program. The Ministry of Works and communication has been informed that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report has been submitted to Natural Resources and Environmental Board Sarawak.  NREB, in a letter dated 1 February 2013 granted permission for early commencement of work on the road prior to approval but the scope of works shall be confined to the following:

  • Site clearing works and earthworks;
  • Establishment of site office and base camp; and
  • Preliminary infrastructural and drainage works and road works

He says a series of meeting and discussions were held by ATM, Ahli Parlimen Lawas, ICU and State representatives with the residents of all affected villages to explain the execution of the road project. The majority of the residents supported the project especially those from Punang Kelalan and Ba' Kelalan.

He also says a proposal to upgrade Tudan Road in Miri to a 4-lane carriageway to has been submitted to the Federal Government for funding under the Rolling Plan 4 of the Tenth Malaysia Plan. The estimated cost is RM27.2 million.  The road through the old ICQS at Sungai Tujuh is under the management of JKR and being maintained regularly.

He assures that the proposal to upgrade the existing Miri Airport building, including the cracks appearing in some parts, will be referred to the Ministry of Transport for attention and action.

Dato Seri Manyin says the Tanjung Kidurong/ Samalaju Industrial road project involves the upgrading of 16 km, two stretches of the 4 km and 12 km of the existing 51 km road, to a 4-lane carriageway and the construction of two overtaking lanes, which are now under tender while the design for the 4- lane carriageway is in progress. The project cost is RM144 million.

The Minister says Kapit/Song/Kanowit Road, approximately 101 km in length, is being designed and constructed to JKR R3 standard. Today, 21 km out of a total 101 km has been completed to tar sealed surface. The total cost of the project for the remaining portion is estimated at about RM783 million.

Currently, four sections of the road with a total cost of RM248 million are under
construction. They are:
  • Poi/Nanga Ngungun section with a length of 15.5 km;
  • Temalat/Sipang/Song section with a length of 7.6 km;
  • Kapit/ Nanga Yong section(Phase I) with a length of 2 km; and
  • Kapit/ Nanga Yong section (Phase II) with a length of 9.6 km.

The Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communication is requesting another RM535 million from the Federal government to complete the remaining sections of the road, namely:
  • Sungai Kanowit Bridge with 2.6 km of approach road;
  • Nanga Ngemah/ Nanga Temalat section with a length of 9.5 km; and
  • Nanga Yong/Song section with a length of 33.4 km.

He says Nanga Ngungun/Jagau Road will be upgraded in Phase II of the Upgrading of Abandoned Logging Roads Program at the cost of about RM8.6 million. This 6.5 km road connects the two settlements through an existing active logging road operated by Kanowit Timber Sendirian Berhad.  A letter of intent has been issued to Kanowit Timber Sendirian Berhad to undertake the project on a design and build basis.

The Minister says work to seal Ulu Krian and Ulu Awik roads, which commenced on January 2013, is  expected to be completed in February 2014. It involves the sealing of 12 km each of the two roads. Currently, works are progressing ahead of schedule both for Ulu Krian and and Ulu Awik roads.  

The contract sum for Jalan Ulu Krian is RM7,088,888 whilst Jalan Ulu Awik is RM7,211,485. The Engkudu Road, measuring 6km, will be sealed in stages subject to the availability of fund. About 2KM is planned to be sealed for this year.

The Minister says the stretch of approximately 20 km Jalan Balingian to Sibu/ Bintulu road is designed to JKR R3 standard. The work, now 43.5% completed is scheduled for completion in February 2014. The contract sum is RM84.15 million.

He says Sarikei/Tanjong Manis road is now under the value management to determine its possible alignment, scope and the cost. The project for the missing link to Tanjong Manis/Sibu Road via Ng Bangkit/Muara Lebaan Road, directly opposite Bintangor Town, has been submitted for consideration under the Mid-Term Review of the 10th Malaysia Plan

He says the road from Bayong Junction to Sebangkoi is part of Pan Borneo Trunk Road and will be upgraded to 4-lane under Pan Borneo Trunk Road Upgrading Program.  

Upgrading of Oya-Mukah-Balingian
Basically, the development of any infrastructure projects require careful planning and as they require large financial investments. They must be prioritized.  Both the Federal and the State Governments provide substantial allocations each year for the development of physical infrastructures and communication facilities in the State.

He says the Ministry of Works, Malaysia allocated a sum of RM141.3 million to the Public Works Department, Sarawak for the implementation of 29 projects under the Roads Program in 2013.

Besides, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, allocated a sum of RM300 million under Rural Road Program for the improvement of basic road infrastructures during the same period. Since 2010, JKR Sarawak has been entrusted to implement 179 JALB (Jalan Luar Bandar) projects worth about RM1.62 billion. To date, about 520 Km of roads under the program has been completed.

Under the Feeder Road Program, the State Government in 2013 allocated the sum of RM183.3 million to continue with the implementation of approved projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan.  The allocations come both from the Federal and State government.

He says the construction of the 164 meters Batang Lawas bridge is expected to be opened to the public in July 2014. The project is progressing at 46%. The contract sum is RM29.79 million. Meanwhile, the construction of 1,480 meter Batang Sadong bridge, which commenced in July 2012, is expected to be completed in July 2016. The current progress of the project is 25%. The contract sum is RM211.39 billion.

Dato Sri Manyin says Sungei Pandaruan bridge along Limbang/Brunei Road, will connect Limbang Town to Temburong District in Brunei Darussalam. The construction of the bridge, which commenced in May 2012, is expected to be completed in August 2013. The present progress of the bridge is 81%. The contract sum is RM20.8 million.

He says the Federal Government has approved the construction of the Matang/Stapok/Batu Kawa Link with a project cost of RM145 million. It involves the construction of a 4-lane carriageway of approximately 8 Km and a 300 meters 4-lane bridge across Sungai Sarawak. This road will provide an alternative link to and from Petra Jaya, by-passing the Central Business District of Kuching City. The project is now in its planning stage.

He says the construction of Samarahan Bridge has been approved for implementation. The scope of works includes the construction of a 700 meters concrete bridge and 2-km of approach road at both sides. The project cost is RM150 million. Tender is expected to be called in August this year. 

Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang, Bekenu assemblywoman Rosey Yunus and others inspect the newly completed road in Bekenu. ( The Borneo Post)
Dato Sri Manyin says Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), which is tasked to ensure river safety particularly for passengers and commercial vessels, has registered and issued River Transport Permit (RTP) to 4,594 vessels throughout Sarawak under Rivers Ordinance and Regulations. SRB, in December 2012, successfully removed and disposed of a wreck in Song, Kapit.

On October last year, carried out selective and controlled rock blasting at Pelagus Rapids to create a safe navigational passage.  The works comprised the blasting of huge boulders and rocks at Wong Lapoh, Wong Batu Kawie, Wong Sukat, Wong Tilan and Wong Batu Naga and creating a diversion channel at Wong Pantu.

All types of vessels can navigate through the rapids safely during both high and low water levels based on statistics of daily river traffic obtained by Sarawak Rivers Board. This is a testimony of the success of the project of selective and controlled rock blasting at Pelagus Rapids.

The blasting of boulders at Wong Pantu Rapids, the installation of navigation signage and post-blasting hydrographical survey under Phase II of the project, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The Minister says SRB will also start work soon on the construction of R.C. Wharf, Sri Aman and R.C. Jeti Pengkalan Nanga Semaram, Kanowit, which were approved under the 10MP.  Semaram Jetty is scheduled for completion in the middle of 2015. By then it will reduce travelling time to Kapit from Sibu by an hour. It will also serve the local population by providing convenient place for embarkation and disembarkation and transfer of goods.

SRB has carried out nine programs and activities to promote awareness on river conservation and cleanliness with the cooperation and involvement of local communities throughout Sarawak during the 1st quarter of this year.

The Minister says Sarawak recorded a total 18,578 road accidents, an increase of 3.6% as compared to those reported in 2011. A total of 389 cases were fatal accidents, resulting in 442 deaths. The same number of deaths was recorded in 2011.

A total of 6,181 road traffic accidents were reported during the first four months of this year, an increase of 3.9% as compared with those recorded during the same period last year.

Motorcyclists and pillion riders were the most vulnerable road accident victims and they contributed about 41% of total road accident deaths. In terms of age groups, about 46% of total road accident deaths recorded was between 16 to 45 years old.

The 2012 road accidents, based on the analysis of the Police, indicate that about 43% of reported fatal accidents occurred along straight roads, 36.5% along curves and bends, 11.3% at cross junctions and 8.5% at roundabouts. The analysis also revealed that 84% of the fatal accidents occurred during fine weather and 14% happened during rainy days.

The Minister says one of the causes of the rising number of road accidents is due to the marked increase in the number of registered vehicles in the State. The accumulated total number of vehicles registered with Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ), Sarawak, as at March 31, 2013 reached 1,491,134 vehicles. This is about one vehicle for every 2 persons.

Sarawak Monitor
June 10, 2013