Tuesday, October 15

‘Takeover of bridge projects to facilitate coastal highway devt’

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KUCHING: The Sarawak government has decided to take over the cost of constructing bridges across Sungai Rambungan, Batang Igan and Batang Lupar to avoid disrupting the state’s connectivity plans, says Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing.

The deputy chief minister said discontinuing the three projects – which had been put on hold by the federal government – would have adversely impacted the construction of the state’s coastal highway.

“Because there will be no connectivity, the state government decided that it cannot allow the promises that were broken (by the federal government) to stop us from building the coastal highway,” he said.

Masing, who is also Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister, said this during a press conference held after witnessing a contract-signing ceremony between Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) and contractors for the Upper Rajang Development Agency (Urda)’s infrastructure projects, here yesterday.

He said the decision by the federal government to withdraw funding for the three bridge projects was a ‘big disappointment’ to the Sarawak government, as the funds set to be used by the state could have been used to implement other development projects.

“Sometimes, people get angry with us for not going to other areas (to implement development projects). But because they (federal government) withdrew from the projects that they were supposed to finance, we (Sarawak government) have to bear the cost.

“That is a big disappointment to us. But whatever it is, we have found the funds to do it,” he said.

Masing said the three projects that the federal government withdrew from had a total value of RM1.1 billion – RM300 million for Rambungan bridge, RM300 million for Batang Igan bridge and RM500 million for the Batang Lupar bridge.

Under the original agreement, the Sarawak government was to finance half of the RM1 billion needed to build the Batang Lupar bridge.

All three projects were approved by the previous federal administration.