KUCHING, April 25 — The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry today blamed criminal intimidation and threats of physical harm by the previous transporters as a reason for the delay in delivering subsidised essential items to Bario in the deep interior of Baram, its deputy minister Chong Chieng Jen said today.
He said the newly engaged transporters were hesitant to supply the items due to the intimidation and threats.
“On receiving the complaints from the new transporters, the ministry officers gave them assurance that it will not succumb to gangsterism and will stand by them to fight off such acts and whatever sabotage these people may do to our transport subsidy programme,” Chong said.
“With the assurance given, the new transporters proceeded with the delivery of the liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) diesel, RON95, sugar, rice, flour and cooking oil to Bario under the ministry’s transport subsidy programme yesterday,” he said, adding that these items are sold in Bario region at the same prices as in towns.
Chong said the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) will not allow local thugs to control or influence the transport subsidy programme.
“That is the whole purpose of introducing the open tender system, only those that meet the best qualification points and prices will get the job,” he said.
He said the ministry enforcement officers will work closely with the police to ensure that the transport subsidy programme will be implemented smoothly and that the appointed transporters can carry out their obligations safely.
Chong dismissed an allegation by the Sarawak State Assembly Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala that the transport subsidy programme is a failure.
“Hopefully, he, as the elected representative of the area, can also help to advise the previous transporters not to resort to such unlawful act,” he said.
Under the transport subsidy programme, the ministry will pay appointed transporters the whole cost of transporting the seven essential items to the rural areas of Sarawak which are to be sold at the same prices as in the towns.
For this year, a total of RM140 million has been allocated for this transport subsidy programme, including about RM80 million allocated for Sarawak.
The ministry, through an open tender system, selected and awarded contracts to the newly appointed transporters on April 1.
“In the open tender for the selection of transporters, a total of approximately 1,444 applications was received, out of which, 79 were chosen and appointed as transporters for Sarawak,” Chong said.
He said the unsuccessful applicants included the previous transporters for the Bario zone who were given the contracts through direct negotiation under the Barisan Nasional government.
“This year, the previous transporters for Bario zone failed in the intensely competitive open tender process,” he added.