Miri-Baram road project to proceed

MIRI: Sarawak government will proceed with the much-anticipated road project linking Miri and Baram divisions to open up the northern frontier, and will use state funds if needed.

The project comprises the creation of a road link from Miri to Long Terawan near the Mulu National Park, and the establishment of the Miri-Mulu tourism corridor.

Announced before GE14, the project was undertaken by the then Barisan Nasional federal government and its status has been in the dark since the change of administration.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government had not yet given the green light for financial allocation for the project.

Speaking at a dinner gathering to celebrate the 13th Miri City Day, Abang Johari said the state government wanted the Miri to Mulu road link project carried out.

“The road link from Miri to Mulu is crucial for us to open up the northern tourism corridor, as tourism has become a multi-billion industry for us,” he said.

He said Miri and Mulu must be connected via road so that more local and foreign tourists could visit the Gunung Mulu National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Abang Johari (in red batik), officials and guests in a cake-cutting ceremony marking Miri City Day celebration.
Currently, tourists can only access the national park via a 30-minute flight service provided by MasWings from Miri, or six hours by boat.

In March, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak visited Sarawak to launch the construction of the Marudi bridge, a RM84mil project that was part of the plan to link Miri and Baram divisions.

Najib also approved the Miri- Mulu road but the budget for this segment of the project was not announced at that time.

“The current Pakatan Harapan Federal Government has not indicated if it will finance the project.

“However, at the state government level, we want to go ahead with that project.

“We will have to look at our own state funds and see how much money we can allocate,” Abang Johari said.

He noted that after GE14, the state government had already taken over the financing of several projects that were supposed to be borne by the Federal Government.

“One of them is the Bekenu water project which the state will pay RM47mil to complete it even though Putrajaya is not giving the money,” he said.

A number of projects, costing several millions in total, were approved for Sarawak by the former federal administration and slated to start after GE14. Most of these projects are now in limbo.

Among them are the upgrading of numerous rural clinics and schools, as well as the Jiwa Murni programme by the Army Corps, which was supposed to build six Jiwa Murni rural road packages in the deep interiors.

The state had to take over the one of the packages, the Lawas-Bakelalan-Bario road project, from the Army Corps at a cost of RM40mil.

At the city day celebration, Abang Johari thanked the past and present leaders of Miri for transforming the city into a vibrant and structured urban centre.

He noted that Miri as the northern gateway to Sarawak was an important economic hub for state and country.

Also present were former deputy chief minister Tan Sri George Chan, Miri mayor Adam Yii, state Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin and local officials.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2018/07/09/miribaram-road-project-to-proceed-state-funds-may-be-used-as-link-is-crucial-for-tourism-development/