KUCHING: The Pan Borneo Highway project in Sarawak has progressed to a completion rate of 42 per cent, compared to the scheduled 43 per cent, said Works Minister Baru Bian.
Met by The Borneo Post after chairing a joint committee meeting on federal projects in Sarawak today, the Selangau MP said the current progress was almost on a par with the schedule.
“We have also been briefed about the complaints received on the ground, and in particular Tatau, Balingian, Sibu areas and Selangau,” he said after the meeting held at Wisma Bapa Malaysia in Petra Jaya here.
Baru said based on what the ministry had gathered, one of the factors leading to complaints from the public was that the roads were being used by overloaded trucks.
Other factors, he added, included weather conditions as well as certain areas that had a history of problems and undergone numerous maintenance and repair works with very little improvement.
“We are very aware of the problem. And I have emphasised that the safety of road users is of paramount importance.”
He said his ministry is working closely with the state Public Works Department (JKR) to draw up the standard operating procedure (SOP) and plan what needs to be done to ensure the implementation will be done smoothly.
He added that the authorities are aware of the ‘live construction works’, referring to the need of paying due attention to the traffic flow and volume while construction is being carried out.
“These are the challenges faced by the contractors. Again, we can improve. Working together with all stakeholders – the contractors, the subcontractors, JKR Sarawak, KKR Pusat (Federal Works Ministry) and with some kind of understanding from the public, I think we can do this within the time given to us.
“We aim to deliver (the project) with the standard and quality that is required of the construction,” pointed out Baru.
The Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak is reported to cover a total length of 1,060km, of which 193km consists of a dual carriageway.
In view of the coming Lunar New Year celebration, Baru advised road users not to drive too fast along portions of the highway that were still under construction.
“We need to play our role as road users. It (the highway) is under construction, so just be careful,” said the Ba Kelalan assemblyman.
Relating his experience in travelling to his constituency, Baru admitted that the road condition “was bad”.
“I travel the road every time I visit my kawasan (constituency) every month. So I know. It’s bad. Of course. I have said the issue is safety and every time I go down (to my constituency) and come back, I would give advice to WPC (Work Package Contractors) and LBU (Lebuhraya Borneo Utara) because they are supposed to supervise, especially the works on the ground.”
He said the ministry had also been briefed about a lot of potholes having been corrected and some diversions put in place.