MIRI, Feb 13 — Miri will soon offer a free public smart bus service, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg.

In announcing the ‘angpow’ for Miri, Abang Johari said the initiative will further strengthen public transport and tourism in the northern region.

“We want to improve the public transport, as you know, (Transport Minister Datuk Seri Lee) Kim Shin has mentioned changing the old buses to new buses.

“Once you’ve got free mobility, tourists also get free too. That means you can attract tourists over, and that is my ‘angpow’, free buses,” he said during a Chinese New Year here last night.

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Currently public bus services here cost RM1 per person.

Abang Johari also stressed the state government’s commitment to develop Miri as a smart city, upgrading of all basic infrastructure here to make Miri the hub of the northern region.

He also said Miri will soon have its own convention centre to complement the state government’s efforts to make the city a tourism hub in the northern region.

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“We have approved a site for your own convention centre. They will start construction, maybe next year.

“I think it is almost as big as the one in Kuching (Borneo Convention Centre Kuching),” he said, adding more people will come to Miri for meetings and conventions once the centre is completed.

Meanwhile, Lee, who is also Senadin assemblyman, thanked Abang Johari for the RM5 million allocation for the new smart bus programme here this year.

He added that the premier has also set aside a similar amount for the same purpose next year.

“This is a project approved for Miri under the 12th Malaysia Plan. Under this programme, all the 14 old Miri City buses will be replaced with new smart buses,” he explained.

Lee also thanked Abang Johari for approving the Miri Lorry Terminal Project, which is currently in the design stage and scheduled to call for tender by the second quarter of this year.

He said the terminal will help resolve the lorry parking problem here, especially for lorries on transit to Brunei, Limbang, Lawas, and Sabah.

Among those present at the dinner were Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian; State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki; Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Datuk Penguang Manggil; and Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) Datuk Gerawat Gala. — Borneo Post Online