Pan Borneo Highway affected by manpower shortage, says works minister

Fadillah points to one of the project components under WPC 06. — Borneo Post pic
Fadillah points to one of the project components under WPC 06. — Borneo Post pic

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BINTANGOR, Sept 12 — Serious shortage of unskilled labour in the construction industry poses a challenge for completion of many projects nationwide.

This is according to Senior Minister of Works Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof who explained that the industry relies very much on foreign labourers for dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs.

“Even we have been encouraging the local people to take part in the construction industry where Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) are willing to train them but unfortunately there are not many takers.

“In Sarawak, it is more challenging because people prefer to work in oil palm plantations where the pay is much higher due to the high price of the commodity.

“We are depending on labourers from Indonesia, Bangladesh and India to do the 3D jobs. We do not have a problem with semi-skilled and skilled areas as the locals will fill in for the job,” he told reporters during his visit to Work Package Contract (WPC) 06 of the Pan Borneo Highway project at Bintangor flyover site here yesterday.

Fadillah said the Pan Borneo Highway project was one such project affected by manpower shortage.

He said that it was a challenge for some WPCs to complete the project by Sept 30, 2022 as scheduled in their agreement although the contractors were given extension of time.

This, he said, was further hindered by the limited supply of construction materials.

“What we need to implement is we will engage the state government to find ways to resolve both shortages of labour and construction material supplies.

“The federal and state government must find ways to bring in foreign labour to Sarawak as we are all aware that we are quite strict about control or border.

“Furthermore, there is yet any policy concerning the admission and recruitment of foreign workers especially from Indonesia and Bangladesh as the countries are identified as high-risk of new Covid-19 variants,” he added.

Fadillah later urged contractors of the WPCs  to focus on the main work of the construction which is to build the road.

He said the other job scope can come as a secondary matter which can be completed by Dec 2022.

Meanwhile, Fadillah urged local elected representatives in Bintangor to monitor the contractor and agencies involved to ensure WPC 06 could catch up with the scheduled progress.

He revealed that WPC 06 stretching 64 kilometres from Jambatan Sungai Awik to Bintangor intersection was 64 per cent completed so far, about 23 per cent behind its targeted progress of 87 per cent.

Also present were Sarikei MP Wong Ling Biu, Meradong assemblyman Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing and Repok Assemblyman Datuk Sri Huang Tiong Sii. — Borneo Post

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