KUCHING, Dec 27 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today gave immediate approval to a RM50 million allocation for the upgrading of the first phase of the Menjawah-Belaga road, following urgent calls from residents.
The 38-kilometre road, which branches off from Bintulu-Bakun road, became impassable to traffic after certain sections collapsed due to landslides following heavy rains over the past few weeks.
According to the state Public Works Department (PWD), the total cost of upgrading the road is estimated at RM86 million.
“The remaining RM36 million will be made available later in a long-term solution to improve the road,” Abang Johari said in a Christmas gathering in Belaga town.
He said his visit was to see for himself the condition of the road and hear the problems of connectivity in the Belaga district, acknowledging that the road is slippery and muddy and full of potholes.
“I am very much aware of the communication problems here,” he said, adding that Belaga district needs a systematic development plan to overcome the issues.
The road, built by the Malaysian Armed Forces under the Jiwa Murni programme, was completed in 2013.
Abang Johari said as matter of policy all future Jiwa Murni road projects should be converted to PWD’s R1 standard or single lane after one year of completion.
“The state government must be consulted before the army starts building any such road projects,” he said.
On other issue, the chief minister said he would table a law at the next year’s sessions of the state legislative assembly to pave way for a systematic development of man-made lakes and hundreds of islands in hydro dams as tourism assets.
He said these lakes and islands, including those in Bakun and Murum dams, have good potential as tourist attractions.
Among those present at the function were acting state secretary Datuk Jaul Samion, Belaga state assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation Datuk Safri Zainuddin, and State Planning Unit director Datuk Abu Bakar Marzuki.