KUCHING, Nov 13 — Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing today stressed that it is crucial for Sarawak to build a secure road network along the border with Indonesia’s provinces on the Island of Borneo.
He said this is in light of the announcement by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to relocate his country’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan by 2024.
“With this announcement, it could augur well towards having abundant opportunities in terms of trade and tourism between Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said.
“Thus, it is now crucial for us to build a border road between Sarawak and Kalimantan as the movement of people between these two regions is anticipated to increase in the next five to six years,” Masing said in his winding-up speech in the Sarawak State Assembly here.
“More importantly, this border highway will enable us to safeguard and protect our multi-billion-ringgit assets, especially the Sarawak-Sabah Gas Pipeline and the four hydroelectric power (HEP) dams, which are situated adjacent to our international boundary,” he said.
Masing, who is also the state minister of infrastructure and port development, said the programme would also provide connectivity to the highland regions along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border.
He said it would also allow nature enthusiasts to experience the state’s rich national parks and wildlife sanctuaries located along the border.
Masing said the proposed border security road would commence from Biawak to Serikin and Engkilili passing through Lubok Antu, Long Silat, Long Banga and Bario, and connected to the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road.
He said the total road length is an estimated 1,032km with 610km of feeder roads. The total cost is estimated at RM24 billion for this programme to be implemented from 2020 to 2030 and beyond.
He said since this is going to be a long stretch of border road and facing an international border, it is imperative that funding must be provided by the federal government.
“It is also for the security of our nation that this highway is proposed, thus funding is within the purview of the federal government.
“We have to get the priority sections ready by 2024 and because of this, we will propose this road project to our state Economic Planning Unit for submission to Ministry of Economic Affairs Malaysia for consideration under the 12th Malaysia Plan,” he said.
Masing said a mini-lab was conducted on October 23 this year to collect input from the relevant stakeholders to develop the proposed security road network.
“Arising from the lab, an in-depth study on the proposed road network will be carried out with priority given to Baleh section and feeder road; Engkilili, Lubok Antu and Batang Ai section; (Serian/Tebedu Road upgrading to JKR R5 standard; and Baram section and Tinjar feeder road,” he said.