Second Trunk Road price tag ‘extravagantly high’, says Rayong

Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa

KUCHING: Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) Youth Chief Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa has demanded that the state government explain why the proposed Second Trunk Road (STR) cost RM6 billion or a whopping RM25.64 million per kilometre.

“What the people of Sarawak would dearly love to know is why is the price of the STR so extravagantly high?,” he asked in a press statement today, inviting Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing to give an explanation.

Maintaining the party’s stand that the STR should be scrapped and the savings put to better use for the people, Rayong compared the proposed project with the Pan Borneo Highway (PBH) which is currently being built.

He said the PBH kick-off project from Nyabau to Bakun junction, which was an R5 standard four-lane dual carriageway road measuring 43km, was awarded in 2015 for approximately RM15 million per kilometre.

The rest of the PBH packages (WPC01 to WPC11), he said, were all on average awarded at approximately RM20 million per kilometre and they too were R5 standard four-lane dual carriageway roads.

“Now the STR project spans approximately 234km and it is an R5 standard dual-lane single carriageway (take note: that is half the size of the Pan Borneo Highway) for a total cost of RM 6 billion – this amounts to a whopping RM 25.64 million per kilometre for a half size highway.

“It must also be highlighted that 31km out of the 234km only involves upgrading of existing roads – not construction of new roads. Besides that, it must be noted that the Pan Borneo Highway is of higher specifications than that of the STR Project,” said Rayong.

The Engkilili assemblyman pointed out that it did not make sense to spend RM6 billion to build a redundant STR just “to provide a shorter route to the main Trunk Road, Pan Borneo Highway and the Coastal Highway”, the difference of which is marginal given the proper comparisons.

“Even this so-called alternative shorter route is somewhat fallacious and misleading,” he said.

Taking Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi to task for comparing the travelling time on the Coastal Road network, PBH and the STR, Rayong asserted that Julaihi should know that the R3 specification Coastal Road’s speed limit was 60km per hour compared to R5 roads with 90km per hour.

“It does not take a rocket scientist to know that you can travel faster on a road and therefore a shorter time required between two destinations with speed limit of 90 km/hr than one with speed limit of 60 km/hr.

“You are not comparing apples with apples and your remarks of shorter traveling time by half between the Coastal Highway route and STR route is grossly misleading to the people,” he said.

In addition, referring to Julaihi’s statement in which he defended the STR by quoting a Chinese saying: “You want to be prosperous? First build a road”, Rayong said the saying was “very true especially when the road is only 234 km.”

“It becomes an absolute reality if the road is only 234km, resulting in a shockingly high cost of approximately RM 25.64 million per km. The saying that someone will become prosperous if the project is built will come true,” he said.

He also took Julaihi to task over his comparison on the travelling time on the Coastal Road network, PBH and the STR, asserting that Julaihi should know that the R3 specification Coastal Road’s speed limit was 60km per hour compared to R5 roads with 90km per hour.

“It does not take a rocket scientist to know that you can travel faster on a road and therefore a shorter time required between two destinations with a speed limit of 90 km/hr than one with a speed limit of 60 km/hr.

“You are not comparing apples with apples and your remarks of shorter traveling time by half between the Coastal Highway route and STR route is grossly misleading to the people,” he said.

Rayong questioned the need to construct the Second Trunk Road (Package A) as another road that runs parallel to the Coastal Highway.

“We should instead utilise the funds necessary to upgrade the existing Coastal Highway to that of R5 standard thereby uplifting the travelling speed limitation from 60km per hour to 90km per hour and thus cutting short the travel time on this main existing highway, which is already serving the entire coastal population including stretches of the hinterland communities.

“With Package B of the STR, why are we spending so much to build new roads cutting through no man’s land and small pocket communities to service areas which are already being serviced with the Pan Borneo Highway and the Coastal Highway?

“Have we done proper population and traffic studies justifying the construction of these proposed roads and how do they compare with the Coastal Highway in terms of priority? Is RM6 billion a justifiable price tag?” he asked.

Rayong lamented that the hinterlands of Sibu – Bawang Assan, Dudong, Tamin, Kakus, Meluan, Ngemah, Machan; Sarikei – Pakan, Semop, Kuala Rajang, Daro, Jemoreng; Kapit – Pelagus, Katibas, Bukit Goram ,Baleh, Belaga, Murum; Miri – Bakunin, Lambir, Marudi, Telang Usan, Mulu; and Limbang/Lawas – Bukit Kota, Batu Danau, Bakelalan, are all in dire need and crying out for more infrastructure facilities.

“Why not improve on current connectivity with the money saved from the abomination that is STR?” he added.

Rayong said that putting off the construction of the project would save the government a hefty RM6 billion, stating that a PSB-led government would cancel the over-priced project and channel every single sen back to the rural community.

He stressed that PSB was fully committed to the well-being of all the people of Sarawak, particularly those who live in the rural areas, and that PSB pledged to practice clean and transparent administration and to always put the Rakyat First – Rakyat above all else.

“What we have suggested all along is that roads are important but we ought to prioritise. We must consider the numerous needs for provisions of so many basic infrastructure projects which are required everywhere in Sarawak.

“In essence, PSB is committed to a more balanced overall approach to our development efforts to enhance the quality of life for all the Rakyat of Sarawak. When we do development planning, we must also bear in mind the state’s financial strength and budgetary constraints,” he said.

The post Second Trunk Road price tag ‘extravagantly high’, says Rayong appeared first on Borneo Post Online.

Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2020/05/20/second-trunk-road-price-tag-extravagantly-high-says-rayong/

© Copyright 2006-2020 MiriCommunity.net · A JacksonLiaw.com project.