KOTA KINABALU: The State Ministry of Rural Development has initiated a pilot project to apply rubberised road technology to upgrade a two-kilometre stretch of road at Kedamaian, Kota Belud.
The technology, which was developed and patented by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB), is expected to improve the quality, performance and life span of roads.
Minister of Rural Development Ewon Benedick hoped that the pilot project would commence next year, adding that the project would be partially funded by MRB.
Although application of the technology incurs up to 15 per cent more in material costs, he said the government could save on maintenance costs as the road would be more durable.
“Based on MRB’s experience in West Malaysia, there have been roads constructed with this technology without the need to carry out maintenance for two to four years,” he said in a press conference after a briefing session yesterday.
MRB was invited to brief the ministry, Public Works Department (PWD) and Kota Belud District Office on rubberised road technology.
Ewon said the ministry has initiated the briefing in order to have at least one rural road upgraded using the technology.
For the pilot project at Kedamaian, he said MRB has agreed to oversee the upgrading works as part of its research and development (R&D) programme.
Meanwhile, PWD will be responsible for the technical aspects whereas the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS) will oversee the supply of raw materials for the project.
He said another technical session would be held between the ministry, MRB, PWD, LIGS and Kota Belud District Office to discuss the pilot project.
Ewon said the initiative served not only to upgrade rural roads and explore the possibility of applying the technology to the maintenance of main roads in Sabah, but also to create demand for rubber, or cuplumps.
He said there was hope to fetch higher price for rubber with the application of this technology in road construction.
“Smallholders will enjoy better price for rubber if we create the demand through road construction,” he said.
He added that the initiative was also part of the efforts to eradicate poverty in Sabah.
Meanwhile, MRB director general Dr Zairossani Mohd Nor explained that the technology utilized rubber as an additive to enhance the properties of roads.
“With the technology, we hope to improve the quality, performance and life span of roads.”
He said MRB used natural rubber in the form of cuplumps in West Malaysia but could use rubber slabs as raw material in Sabah.
MRB has constructed 77 kilometres of road with the rubberised road technology in Peninsular Malaysia since the end of 2015, including in Pahang, Johor, Kelantan, Perak and Negeri Sembilan.
He said road construction using the technology was expected to cost about RM38 to RM50 per square metre, based on the cost in West Malaysia.
Even though the technology would incur an additional material cost of up to 15 per cent, Dr Zairossani said the final construction costs depended on other factors such as logistics, location and preparation.