SANDAKAN, April 27 — The Pan Borneo Highway construction project in Sabah is facing some slowdown due to the time-consuming procedure to transfer utility infrastructure along the route, says Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.

Therefore, Bung Moktar, who is also Sabah works minister, said the state government had planned to implement the project through the Financial Financing Initiative (PFI).

“So far, the implementation of the Pan Borneo Highway construction project is on schedule, there are only a few work packages that have a slight delay due to SESB (Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd) being slow to move its utilities (infrastructure), namely lampposts, as well as the Water Department, sewerage.

“I have planned for Sabah to make a decision like that in the Peninsula and Sarawak, where we do not award these road projects as long as the transfer of utility infrastructure has not been completed,” he told reporters when met after the Kinabatangan Umno Division breaking of fast ceremony here tonight.

Bung Moktar admitted that the transfer of the infrastructure may take up to four years before the actual work of the project could begin.

According to him, the implementation of PFI has gone through many discussions between his ministry and the Ministry of Works at the Federal level as well as the Ministry of Finance and the Economic Planning Unit, but the Federal cabinet has agreed to the proposal.

“Right now, we are just waiting for the final discussion on how to implement PFI,” he added.

Previously, Bung Moktar had proposed the implementation of PFI on 22 work packages under phase one of the project, as it was likely that the Federal government did not have the funds to implement the project based on the available allocation.

He said so far, 15 work packages out of 34 under phase one have been implemented.

Commenting on political developments, Bung Moktar, who is also the State Umno Liaison Committee chairman said the state chapter would follow the decision of the recent Umno General Assembly that the seats won in the last General Election (GE) under the Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket by incumbents who then switched parties, should be contested again by BN in the next GE.

“We cannot hand over the seats to any party for free. Umno has stressed that they are BN seats and must be contested by BN,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bung Moktar welcomed the presence of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), which announced that it would contest in Sabah, but felt that the people in Sabah would not be interested in choosing the party. — Bernama