KUCHING: Works on the 73km access road project to the proposed Baleh dam, from Nanga Mujung in Kapit to the site at Sungai Dapu, will soon commence.
The RM561-million Package A (Phases 2-7) of the road project was launched here yesterday.
Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong witnessed the signing of the contract for the project between implementing agency, Public Works Department (JKR),
and four contractors; namely Debessa Development Sdn Bhd, Pekerjaan Piasau Konkerit Sdn Bhd, Untang Jaya Sdn Bhd and Samado Sdn Bhd.
The 36-month contract will involve the building of a road infrastructure spanning 37km.
The project will be implemented at an approved cost of RM1.4 billion. Expected to be fully completed by the end of 2019, the infrastructure is crucial for the construction of the 1,285MW Baleh hydroelectric dam that is expected to begin this year and operational in 2024.
The project will be implemented in 15 phases under the three main packages. Package A (Phases 1-7) consists of the construction of road from KM0 to KM36.258, including eight bridges; Package B (Phases 2-4) from KM36.258 to KM50.698, including 10 bridges; Package C (Phases 1-5) from KM50.698 to KM73.3, including nine bridges. In total, the project will see the building of 27 bridges.
The first component of the project, a RM77-million Batang Baleh bridge under Package B (Phase 1), was completed in December last year.
“This project will become a massive game changer that will open up Baleh and the Kapit hinterland. The road infrastructure will create a multiplier effect to spur economic growth, triggering further development in the division,” Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) chief executive officer, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot, told a press conference after the signing ceremony at Imperial Hotel.
Apart from accelerating investment in infrastructure development for the energy sector, the access road is poised to open up new areas of economic activities in the region for agriculture and commercial forestry which would help to create job and business opportunities for the local communities.
Manyin, when addressing reporters, said Phase 1 of Package A will commence after the contract is awarded. Costing RM103 million, the contract will include the building of the Sg Mujung bridge. In total, Package A will cost RM664 million.
He added that the road will benefit areas within the Tunoh Growth Node also known as Bukit Mabong District.
For the over 9,000 people living along Batang Baleh, the road will provide them with a more convenient means of commuting to Kapit town, as the journey by road would take only an hour compared to three hours by express boat.
“When the government implements projects, we are always considering economic viability as opposed to implementing everything immediately with no thorough studies. We are looking at the long term, a project must have long term economic return to the people. The government is serious about transforming the rural areas,” Manyin pointed out.
Also present were Land Development Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, who is BN candidate for Baleh, Kapit Resident Joseph Belayong and state JKR director Zuraimi Sabki, who signed the contracts on the agency’s behalf.