BINTULU: Sarawak is to embark on a pioneer project to build a railway network, the first ever railway project in this vast state.
The railway project will have a dual purpose - to provide a relatively cheaper yet reliable form of mass transportation for the people, and to facilitate the movement of raw materials and goods for the construction of the projects that will be carried out in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Tuesday said a railway system is the most viable and cheapest form of fast transportation for massive bulk of both goods and people.
''This will be the first railway in Sarawak. The main area involved will span the (320km) stretch between Similajau in Bintulu Division and Tanjung Manis in Mukah division. That area comprises 57% of Sarawak.
''The rail project will be a viable alternative of transportation in view of the constantly rising costs of fuel and other costs.
‘‘The SCORE project will bring tremendous benefits and opportunities, not only in terms of industries, but also other spin-offs for the people of the state,’’ he said at the state-level Conference of District officers and Residents held in this gas capital of Sarawak.
Taib, who is also the state’s 1st Finance Minister and state’s 1st Minister for Planning and Resources Management, however, did not disclose the cost of the railway project nor the date for the project to commence.
He said the Government will be spending some RM67bil to develop the basic infrastructure needed for SCORE to proceed.
‘‘We have now obtained up to RM300bil in investment pledges. The majority will be from private sectors,’’ he said.
Taib said the SCORE project will also see the development of the coal industry, which Sarawak has more than one billion tonnes in reserve.
He noted that up to 20,000 MWs of power will be developed within the next 30 years and during that period, Sarawak will be able to provide cheap and efficient electricity to the people in the state and country.
A RM1.5bil plant to produce halal food will also be constructed in the region, he added.
‘‘The Federal Government had already allocated RM3bil to the state to kickstart SCORE,’’ he said.