Tuesday, May 17

Transport Ministry approves Sarawak’s proposal to upgrade Lawas STOLport to airport


Wee (second left), Abang Johari (third left) and others applaud as Ismail (middle) performs the launching gimmick for Mukah Airport. — Penerangan photo

KUCHING (Dec 4): Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today announced that his ministry has approved the proposals by the Sarawak government to upgrade the short take-off and landing airport (STOLport) in Lawas to a proper airport.

He also revealed that the Transport Ministry also approved another two proposals to construct STOLports in Betong and Kapit.

“Upon discussion, it was learnt that these (proposed airport and STOLports) are the initiatives of the Sarawak state government.

“We have no objections — in fact, we have given approvals to the state government to improve our (ministry) facilities which in the end benefit Sarawakians themselves due to the rapid development taking place in the state,” he said at the official launch of Mukah Airport today which was declared open by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Wee also gave his assurance to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that his ministry has included initiatives to improve the STOLports and Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sarawak under its action plan.

“Rest assured that all suggestions and inputs will be given due attention and continuous action will be taken. We will do our best for the betterment of Sarawak,” he said.

According to Wee, the proposed development of an airport or airfield for the purpose of providing rural air services will be continued, subject to the financial position of the country.

“The ministry will consider the application if there is an urgent need for residents in rural areas.

“The federal government is always committed and serious to provide the best infrastructure facilities to ensure the quality of life of Keluarga Malaysia throughout the country can be improved,” he added.

Wee said that his ministry will conduct a study on National Airports Strategic Plan (NASP) which will begin at the end of this year and is expected to be finalised by mid-2023.

He explained that this was to ensure the longterm development of airports and STOLports in Malaysia are implemented based on the current needs by taking into account the Covid-19 impact and needs of the national connectivity network system.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said that the state government thanked the Transport Ministry for approving its proposals.

He said these proposals are aimed at opening up more areas in the state, as well as to transport agricultural produce from these areas apart from ferrying passengers there.

“This (approval of proposals) shows the close relationship between federal and state governments. We can work together and united, and this enables us to deliver to the people in the spirit of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’,” he said.

On the RM300 million Mukah Airport, it was built and recently completed to replace the old STOLport there.

The new airport, located 7 kilometres from Mukah town, has a 3,120sqm terminal building; 1,500 metre long and 30 metre wide runway; and 15 metre wide taxiways to cater for bigger aircrafts such as ATR.

It started operating in June 17 this year, and is able to handle a passenger capacity of 265,000 passengers per year.