KUCHING, Feb 9 — Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah wants federal Works Minister Baru Bian to clarify the actual cost of the state’s portion of the Pan Borneo Highway project.
He said Baru, who is also the Sarawak PKR chief, is the right person to explain instead of Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen.
“Are you brave enough to inform the Sarawak public what is actually the cost of the highway? Is it RM16b or RM18.8b or RM21.9b?” Karim, who is also PBB vice president, said in a video posted on his Facebook today.
He said Baru’s predecessor Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof had disputed the earlier figure, saying the ceiling cost of the highway project was RM16 billion and not RM18.8 billion or RM21.9 billion as stated last week by federal Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
“If what was being said by Fadillah that the agreed ceiling cost was RM16b at that time and when the project is completed, the cost could still be further reduced by RM1b or RM2b,” Karim said.
Like Fadillah, Karim also disagreed with Chong’s assertion that the state government agreed with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government to the termination of the Pan Borneo Highway’s project delivery partner Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU).
“Chong should know that the highway is not the state government project. It is the federal government’s project and that the one which cancelled the project is the federal government, that is, the Minister of Finance,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Chong had said the termination of the PDP agreement would reduce the costs of implementation of the whole Pan Borneo Highway project in Sarawak from an estimated RM21.9 billion to RM18.8 billion, a saving of RM3.1 billion for the federal government.
He had said the RM3.1 billion savings would then be channelled back to Sarawak for the other projects.
Chong was responding to Fadillah’s statement that the cancellation of the PDP model and the changes announced by Lim, Sarawak’s highway project could now run a real risk of being delayed from its original targeted date of end 2021 and the risk of the project’s cost being much higher than the current RM15.13 billion targeted cost.