KUCHING: The Pan Borneo Highway project in Sarawak has marked a milestone with the completion of the first of the 11 work packages.
The completed package, one of the two undertaken by Miri-based Samling Resources Sdn Bhd, stretches 32.77km from Telok Melano to Sematan in southern Sarawak.
Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project delivery partner Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) has issued the certificate of WPC completion to Samling Resources.
However, the new road, which took 39 months to complete, is yet to open to public traffic until the Works Ministry gazettes it as a federal highway, according to Sarawak Infrastructure Development and Transportation Ministry.
The Telok Melano-Sematan stretch is the shortest of all the work packages and is the only package with a two-lane dual carriageway. The other 10 work packages are with a four-lane dual carriageway.
Telok Melano is a traditional fishing village, which in the past was only accessible by sea. The village sits in one of the most beautiful bays in the area. When the new road opens, visitors need to take only a 30-minute drive to Telok Melano, described as a hidden tourism jewel.
The LBU said the construction of the Telok Melano-Sematan had posed various challenges to Samling Resources as the main contractor had to construct the alignment in a greenfield area criss-crossing six rivers and swamps.
With one-third of the road alignment lying within the Samunsam wildlife sanctuary where proboscis monkeys live, certain unique conditions were imposed on the construction activities.
They include designing and building a longer than normal bridge over Sungai Samunsam in order to minimise disruption to the local habitat.
Samling’s other work package is from Sematan to Sungai Moyang Bridge, plus Kuching-Serian roundabout interchanges covering 95.4km.
This package, the longest of the 11 stretches of the highway project, involve the construction of 22 bridges across rivers, six interchanges, nine pedestrian bridges and 93 bus shelters along the way.
LBU chief executive officer Safuabi Abdul Hamid said the successful completion of the Telok Melano-Sematan stretch would serve as a morale booster for the entire Pan Borneo highway project.
“This is a milestone as it marks the first ‘pass’ that we have achieved. I believe this is a catalyst to other main contractors to work harder to get their respective work packages completed on time,” he added.
Eleven listed companies from Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia are among 20 companies which have been appointed main contractors for the RM16bil project that stretches a total length of 746km under phase 1.
As of November-2018, work laying of 1,662 units of pipe culverts and 418 units box culverts has begun for the project’s drainage system, LBU said in its latest update on the project progress.
It said the bridge works include the construction of new as well as demolition of existing bridges that need to meet the R5 standard of the future highway.
“Phase 1 involves construction of bridges at no less than 115 locations across Sarawak. These range from short single-span bridges to the longest one at 1.708kim in length across Batang Rajang at Durin,Sibu,” added LBU.