Sarawak construction firms eyeing jobs in RM5.2bil link road project

KUCHING: Sarawak-based leading construction companies are likely to bid for the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) project, which will cost the federal government RM5.2bil to implement.

These companies, which are partnering Peninsular Malaysia-based construction firms in the Pan Borneo Highway project, are the likely candidates to tender for the project’s Package 1, which opened for bidding on Tuesday, according to industry sources.

They include Hock Seng Lee Bhd, KKB Engineering Bhd, Naim Holdings Bhd and PPES Works (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd.

“We and our partner are keen to explore any infrastructure projects, including the SSLR, ” KKB group executive director Kho Pok Tong told StarBiz when asked if the company was eyeing the SSLR construction job.

KKB is partnering WCT Holdings Bhd in undertaking a RM1.46bil work package of the Pan Borneo Highway project.

An industry player said the announcement on the SSLR project came quite unexpectedly, as construction companies had not heard much about the mega-project.

“Companies which are doing a good job in implementing the Pan Borneo Highway project will stand a better chance of participating in the SSLR project, ” he added.

The 425-km SSLR project comprises two packages. Package 1 covers 90km from Lawas in northern Sarawak through Long Sukang, then to Long Luping and Pa Berunut.

Package 2 involves the construction of a 160-km stretch from Pa Berunut to Long Lama, along with 170km of spur roads.

The SSLR, according to Works Minister Baru Bian, will be the first road connecting the two East Malaysian states without having to pass through Brunei Darussalam.

Motorists travelling between Sarawak and Sabah now have to pass through immigration checkpoints in the oil-rich sultanate to continue their journey.

Launching the SSLR project in Lawas on Nov 5, Bian described the new link road as the “last frontier” to connect the rural areas in Sarawak and Sabah, and which will replace the logging roads that now serve rural villagers and travellers.

“The development of this high-impact road infrastructure is the turning point for the transformation of these rural areas, and will put them on par with other areas which have already been developed.

“It should transform the socio-economic status and quality of life of the population along the SSLR, ” he added.

The tender for Package 1 has opened and will close at the end of this month.

Bian expects construction work for Package 1 to kick off in October 2020 for completion in 2024.

Package 2 is expected to be completed by 2030.

The SSLR is the single-largest road project after the Pan Borneo Highway that covers both Sarawak and Sabah.

The Works Ministry via the Public Works Department is taking over the Sarawak Pan Borneo Highway project from Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) in February 2020. This follows the recent termination of LBU as the project delivery partner to save cost.

The highway project, costing RM16.49bil (Phase 1) on the Sarawak side, is made up of 11 work packages, one of which has been completed. More than 40% of the project’s overall construction and upgrading works has been completed.

Besides the federal-funded Pan Borneo Highway and SSLR project, the Sarawak government is funding two other mega road projects – the Sarawak Coastal Highway and the Second Trunk Road.

Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg has announced additional allocations of about RM1.53bil and RM1.17bil next year for the Second Trunk Road and coastal highway projects, respectively.

Under the coastal road network, several major bridges, including the Batang Kemena bridge in the Bintulu Division, will be built. Other bridge projects are across major rivers like Batang Lupar, Rambungan, Batang Lassa and Batang Igan in southern and central Sarawak.

Some of these bridge projects have been awarded and are currently under construction.

The first work package of the Second Trunk Road project is expected to be awarded in the current quarter or early next year.

The Second Trunk Road serves to provide an alternative shorter route to the Pan Borneo Highway and coastal road network.

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