Sunday March 3, 2013
Yong says state trunk road will become dual carriageway by 2025
By YU JI
KUCHING: Sarawak’s first trunk road, which is about 1,500km in all, will become a dual carriageway by 2025, said Deputy Works Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Seng.
“For the Sarawak portion, it will cost approximately RM9bil. For Sabah’s portion, which is about 1,000km, it will cost around RM7bil. This is a long-term com- mitment with a clearly laid out plan. It cannot be built overnight, or over two or three years, but definitely, by 2025, according to the plan, it will be done,” Yong said on Friday.
Speaking at the Sarawak Lorries Transport Association’s Chinese New Year gathering, where the deputy minister also addressed other matters, the portion of his speech on the trunk road received loud applause.
Interestingly, Yong said the upgrade was actually announced late last year.
“It was confirmed when we (in Parliament) were debating about the Budget (2013). I hope everybody understands here that we cannot complete it immediately. For this year, we will be addressing black areas (accident-prone stretches) and add overtaking lanes all along.”
The poor state of the road, which is the only land network connecting Sarawak to Sabah and all towns and cities within, has for a long time been a public grouse.
In more recent years, elected representatives from the Barisan Nasional have joined the Opposition in calling for the upgrading of the roads.
In the last Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting last year, calls for the road to be upgraded was one of the few matters Barisan and Pakatan Rakyat officials mutually agreed on. Pakatan has also announced that it would upgrade the entire stretch of the road in its manifesto.
Yong told guests at the gathering that he agreed the road was not up to expectation, and said he did not believe in calling the road the “Pan Borneo Highway”, which some do.
During his speech, the Federal minister referred to it as the “Pan Borneo Trunk Road”.
He also said the building of the trunk road only began 30 years ago, and not since Sarawak joined Malaya and Sabah to form Malaysia 50 years ago as many believed.
“The road is presently classified as a R3 road. That’s the technical standard. In the Federal Government’s plan until 2025, from R3, it will be upgraded to R5, which still cannot be classified as a highway — strictly speaking.”
Earlier, in his welcoming speech, association president Jong Foh Jit said the state of the trunk road was “a joke”.
“When I went to Peninsular Malaysia recently to attend a government function, my friend who picked me up from the airport, asked me which highway I would like to see. Which highway? How many do they (in Peninsular Malaysia) already have? Please, built one in Sarawak,” Jong said.
Jong said calls for a proper highway to be built were “reasonable” demands in tandem with the economic growth. On a related matter, he said, poor roads and bridges led to the restriction on transporters’ cargo weights.