Wednesday, December 7

Deputy Premier: RM1 bln funding signifies govt’s commitment to Sibu urban renewal plan

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Dr Sim (second right) highlights a point during the inspection on a drain at Jalan Perpati. With him are (front, from left) Ting, Chieng and Tiang.

SIBU (Aug 15): The initial funding of over RM1 billion, as announced by Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, signifies the state government’s commitment to Sibu urban renewal plan.

In stating this, Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the implementation would involve Bukit Assek Redevelopment Plan and Sibu Town Drainage Master Plan – all set to ‘ultimately transform this town’.

“The renewal plan covers 500 acres and looking at this size, it is very challenging. We need to manage the waters, the buildings, the houses and the drainage; that is why we need all sorts of expertise for the redevelopment.

“We are also very hopeful that all the places that we have visited overseas would be very willing to help even though we are from the jungle of Borneo. The project will take time, but the commitment is there.

“The initial funding of more than RM1 billion has been set aside,” he told reporters when met during an inspection on the drainage upgrading project site at Jalan Pipit here yesterday.

The Deputy Premier was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang, Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng and Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting, along with several other government officers.

Earlier, Dr Sim said the decision by the state government to engage international consultants for the Sibu urban renewal plan was not because it overlooked the local consultants.

“The Sibu urban renewal plan is a huge project. Because of its scale, the Premier, after two briefings by local consultants, decided that we should get international expertise for the project.

“We will get local consultants to work with the international consultants because we really want something beneficial to solve drainage problems in Sibu, and at the same time, we want the project to be done in accordance with the international standards,” he said.

Dr Sim said many were cynical about the implementation of the project, questioning the need to engage international consultants for it.

“If we had the expertise, of course we would go for the local consultants. But if we did not have the expertise, we must be brave enough to say that we’d require international expertise, not because we want to overlook the local (consultants).

“The two local consultants had presented their briefings on flood mitigation and Sibu redevelopment to the Premier in January and July this year.

“The Premier, after the briefings, decided that we would have to get international expertise because we would not want to keep it (project) dragging on,” he clarified further.

Later, Dr Sim inspected drains at Lorong Brother Albinus 11 and Jalan Perpati, which he said would be upgraded under similar projects.

His team also inspected the progress of Taman Selera Muhibbah upgrading project, which should reach completion by this December.

All four projects, costing RM1.6 million, are funded by the federal government under the purview of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.