Cross-border travel talks with Brunei begin

high-level meet. Sarawak Assistant Minister for Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin (centre in green batik) with Brunei Land Transport Director Supry Awang Ladi (on his left) and other delegates during the BIMP-EAGA Land Transport meeting in Miri starting yesterday.The Star/Stephen Then

MIRI: The Sarawak state government has started negotiations with Brunei with a view to enable the land transport authorities of both sides to lengthen the entry permit for all forms of commercial vehicles to facilitate hassle-free interstate travel along the Pan Borneo Highway.

Assistant Minister for Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the state wanted to discuss with Brunei on at least 32 topics relating to interstate land communications.

Top of the list of matters to be negotiated was the issue relating to permits for commercial vehicles to enter into Brunei from Sarawak, he told Sarawak Metro yesterday after meeting with a delegation of Transport Ministry officials from the sultanate who are in Miri for a three-day official visit.

The Brunei team is here to attend the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East Asean Growth Area) Land Transport Bilateral Meeting.

Lee, who is also State Assemblyman for Senadin, yesterday spoke to the director of land transport, Ministry of Communications Brunei, Supry Awang Ladi, and expressed hopes that both Sarawak and Brunei could agree to implement better conditions that would enable people, cargo and vehicles to cross each other’s borders without hindrance.

“Land transportation is very important to both Sarawak and Brunei. We are now seeing rapid increase in the number of personal vehicles and commercial vehicles that cross into each other’s territories every day,” he said.

“The number of commercial vehicle crossings is surging very fast due to the fast pace of business and trading activities between Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah.”

He said lorries, cargo transporters, public buses, tour buses and commercial vans from Miri entering Brunei needed to apply for permits from the Brunei authorities to enter the sultanate or pass through from Miri to there into Limbang.

“Brunei usually issues entry permits that are valid for six months. Sarawak wants to see the permit period extended to one year.

“We feel that having a 12-month validity period will ease the burden on commercial vehicle operators and enable hassle-free travel that will benefit both countries in the long term.

“We in Sarawak would also like school buses to be given such permit to enter and pass through Brunei because during the school holidays, such buses are often used to ferry students for holidays,” he added.

Lee said Sarawak wanted to see more Immigration and Customs clearance lanes opened at the border checkpoints, especially at the Miri-Kuala Belait boundary so that people and vehicles could be cleared for crossing faster.

He stressed that now, the traffic queue could be very long especially during weekends. “Traffic congestion at the border is becoming a big problem because the number of people crossing into Sarawak has surged beyond the three million mark every year.”

Lee said the BIMP-EAGA grouping must review all the policies and regulations governing cross-border travel and remove or ease whatever constraints hindering the smooth flow of people, goods and vehicles.

He expressed hopes that the strong bilateral ties between Sarawak and Brunei would continue to flourish and that more interstate dialogues would be carried out this year.

to solidy the already good relationship that they enjoyed.

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