Sunday, September 20

Sarawak-Kalimantan border security road network now ‘crucial’, says Masing

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A map of the proposed Border Security Road Network between Sarawak and Kalimantan. – File photo

KUCHING: The construction of a Border Security Road Network between Sarawak and Kalimantan is now “crucial” given Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s announcement on August 26 on the relocation of his country’s capital, said Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

The deputy chief minister, in his winding up speech in the State Legislative Assembly today, described the proposed road network as the state’s “third trunk road traversing into the last frontiers of Sarawak”.

He said the Indonesian capital’s shift from Jakarta to East Kalimantan would augur well for trade and tourism between Malaysia and Indonesia, and he expected the movement of people across the border to increase in the next five to six years.

“More importantly, this border highway will enable us to safeguard and protect our multi-billion-ringgit assets, especially the Sarawak-Sabah Gas Pipeline and the four (4) hydroelectric power (HEP) dams, which are situated adjacent to our international boundary,” said Masing, who is also Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister.

The border security road network, he added, would also provide connectivity to the highland regions of the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, which would allow nature enthusiasts a chance to experience the rich national parks and wildlife centres located along the border.

“The proposed border security road will commence from Biawak to Serikin and Engkilili passing through Lubok Antu, Long Silat, Long Banga and Bario, and will be connected to the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road.

“The total border road length is estimated at 1,032 kilometres (km) with 610km of feeder roads, with a total cost estimated at RM24 billion for this programme to be implemented from 2020 to 2030 and beyond,” Masing said.

He said a mini lab had been conducted on Oct 23 to collect input from relevant stakeholders to develop the proposed border security road network alignment.

“Arising from said lab, an in-depth study on the proposed road network shall be carried out with priority given to four sections, namely Baleh Section and Feeder Road; Engkelili, Lubok Antu and Batang Ai section; Serian/Tebedu Road upgrading to JKR R5 standard and the Baram section and Tinjar Feeder Road,” Masing said.

As the road network would be a long stretch of border road and facing an international border, it was imperative that funding be provided by the federal government, said Masing.

“It is also for the security of our nation that this highway is proposed, thus funding is within the purview of the federal government.

“We have to get the priority sections ready by 2024, and because of this we will propose this road project to our state Economic Planning Unit for submission to the Ministry of Economic Affairs for consideration under the 12th Malaysia Plan,” Masing said.