KUCHING: Sarawak, which is currently implementing three mega road network projects, is mulling to embark on a fourth - a border security road stretching more than 1,000km to link up with Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The border security road project is estimated to cost a whopping RM24bil, according to Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister and Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister Tan Sr James Masing.
He considers it crucial to construct the 1,032km border road following Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s recent announcement to relocate his country’s capital to Kalimantan from Jarkata.
Dubbed Sarawak’s third trunk road traversing into the state’s last frontiers, Masing expects the border road project to start as early as next year. Construction work could take more than 10 years to beyond 2030.
He said the border security road network project was deliberated during a mini lab conducted last month to gather feedback and input from various stakeholders, including the state economic planning unit (EPU), his ministry, State Transport Ministry, Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) and various relevant state and federal agencies.
“Arising from the lab, an indepth study on the proposed boader security road network will be carried out with priorities given to four sections, ” said Masing when he revealed the project for the first time in the state legislative assembly on Wednesday.
The four sections are the Baleh section and feeder road, Engkilili, Lubok Antu and Batang Ai section, Serian/Tebedu road upgrading to JKR standard and the Baram section and Tinjar feeder road.
“We have to get the priority sections ready by 2024 and because of this, we will propose this road project to our state EPU for submission to the Economic Affairs Ministry for consideration under the 12th Malaysia Plan, ” he added.
The project will commence from Biawak in Lundu district to Serikin (border town with Pontianak, west Kalimantan), passing through Lubok Antu, Long Silat, Long Banga and Bario and will be connected to the Sarawak-Sabah link road.
The Sarawak-Sabah road project was announced recently by Works Minister Baru Bian. The 425km new road project is estimated to cost RM5.2bil.
With the shifting of Indonesian capital to Kalimantan in 2024, Masing expects the movement of people between Sarawak and Kalimantan to increase in the next five to six years.
“More importantly, this proposed border highway will enable us to safeguard and protect our multi-billion ringgit assets, especially the Sarawak-Sabah gas pipeline and the four hydroelectric dam (Bakun, Murum, Batang Ai and Baleh) which are situated adjacent to our international boundary, ” he said.
Once built, the border road network would provide the connectivity to the highland regions along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border in northern Sarawak. The state’s three ongoing mega road network projects are the Pan Borneo Highway costing over RM14bil, the billion ringgit Sarawak Coastal Road and the Second Trunk Road.