Northern Coastal Highway project to take 48 months


Awang Tengah (second left) takes a closer look at an artist’s impression of a twin bridge, which will be built under the project. From right are Dr Abdul Rahman, Henry, Ismawi, and Limbang Resident Ahmad Deni. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Construction of the Northern Coastal Highway project linking Limbang to Lawas, which will begin next year, is expected to take 48 months to be completed.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said when completed, the new highway is poised to spur more trade and investment within the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga).

He pointed out road connectivity is crucial for the transportation and logistics sector in the region, which is strategically located near Brunei, Sabah, and Indonesia.

“With this highway, it will allow us to foster greater trade and investment of BIMP-Eaga, which will bring tremendous economic prosperity to the region.

“We have to bear in mind that the relocation of Indonesia’s capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan will have a major impact, especially on cross-border trade involving Sarawak. The highway can also spur connectivity to new developments from the oil and gas industry such as the onshore blocks in Limbang, which are still under study and the proposed oil refinery in Lawas,” Awang Tengah said in his speech when closing the Northern Coastal Highway Value Assessment Lab recently.

The Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources said the Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) is the implementing agency for the Northern Coastal Highway project.

The new highway spanning across 86km will have JKR R5 dual carriageway highway standard roads.

He added the project will help to spur the agriculture and tourism industries in the region once completed and integrated with the Sarawak Link Road to enhance road and air connectivity.

“The Northern Coastal Highway Project fits very well into the overall development of the northern region of Sarawak, which is currently being undertaken by Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA), an agency under Recoda,” said Awang Tengah, who is also NRDA chairman.

He revealed NRDA is undertaking 165 projects totalling RM1.5 billion from the state government to strengthen infrastructure in the region.

Citing one example, he said the new Lawas Airport will serve to provide air connectivity to the Southeast Asia region.

“Both the road and air connectivity will help spur the agriculture and tourism industries in the region. Agriculture produce from the hinterland in the region will be able to be transported out to the urban centre before it is transported via air connectivity to other places,” said Awang Tengah, who is also International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Minister.

When speaking to reporters later, he explained the final cost of the highway project is still being assessed.

He also confirmed the project is part of the coastal road network being built by the state government.

“It was actually part of the Pan Borneo Highway, which was abandoned by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government.

“We are proceeding to implement this project to be part of the coastal road that we are implementing throughout the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Recoda CEO Datu Ismawi Ismuni said the Northern Coastal Highway project is meant for the betterment of the people, particularly in the northern region of Sarawak.

He explained the Value Assessment Lab was held to find the best approach for the highway project implementation, which took into account the socioeconomic impact of the project on the people.

Among those present were Deputy Rural Development Minister Datuk Henry Sum Agong; Deputy Transport Minister Hasbi Habibollah; Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail; and Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang.