Sunday, June 16

‘Air connectivity vital in BIMP-EAGA growth’

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Datuk Lee Kim Shin

MIRI: There is a need to enhance the air connectivity, within Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region.

Stating this at the inaugural BIMP-EAGA Transport Cluster meeting here yesterday, Assistant Minister of Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin called on the BIMP-EAGA Transport Committee to specifically look into air connectivity between Miri with the other cities in the BIMP-EAGA region.

Lee said Miri is strategically located and has vast tourism potential and the city’s importance as a transport hub had been boosted by major industrialisation through the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) at nearby Samalaju Industrial Park.

“I still remember launching the commercial bus service under a memorandum of understanding on cross-border movement of commercial buses and coach’s way back in October 2008, marking the commencement of commercial bus service under the memorandum connecting Miri to Bandar Seri Begawan, Limbang, and Lawas and all the way to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,” he said.

The assistant minister was happy to note that despite the challenges and constraints, the bus service is still in operation.

He added that the ro-ro ferry service that commenced operation on October 16, 2010, linking Muara, Brunei Darussalam to Labuan provided a new gateway for people residing or working in Labuan to drive to Brunei, all the way to Miri, Bintulu, Sibu and other places.

“The pace of progress and achievement in developing the transportation network in BIMP-EAGA may not be taking place at bullet train speed; nonetheless, progress does happen, achievement are there, albeit at a ‘moderate pace’. At least it is better than no action talk only,” he added.

Lee said the connectivity in BIMP-EAGA was boosted in 2007 with the signings of key sub-regional transport arrangements.

“Connectivity is the key to growth, development and prosperity. Tourism sector, in particular, is very much dependent on well-developed air linkages to realise its full potentials,” said Lee.

In order to further develop tourism sector in BIMP-EAGA, Lee said the transport fraternity should work diligently to lay groundwork to enhance connectivity within the sub-region and beyond.

Such undertakings required not only MoU, but also policy support measures and close collaboration with relevant stake-holders he added.