KUCHING: Construction on the next phase of the Baleh access road, which will lead to the Baleh hydroelectric project, will begin soon with funding from the Federal Government.
The Public Works Department has signed contracts with four construction firms to start work on the 73km road from Nanga Mujung to Sungai Dapu.
The road, expected to be completed by the end of 2019, is crucial for the construction of the 1,285MW Baleh hydroelectric project which is expected to begin this year.
It is also poised to open up new areas in the region for agriculture and commercial forestry and help create job and business opportunities for the local communities.
This project is the first big public-funded road infrastructure for Tunoh Growth Node in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
For the more than 9,000 people living along Batang Baleh, the new access road will also give them a more convenient commute to Kapit town, as the journey by road would take only one hour compared to three hours by express boat.
The access road project, which began in 2009, involves the construction of 73km of R3-standard road and 27 concrete bridges from Nanga Mujung to Sungai Dapu, as well as construction of 3m-wide paved roads to seven longhouses in the area.
The RM77mil Batang Baleh Bridge, under Package B (Phase 1) of the project, was completed in December last year.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the access road project will be implemented at an approved cost of RM1.4bil.
It will be implemented through 15 phases in three main packages: Package A (Phases 1-7) consisting of roads from KM0 to KM36.258, including eight bridges; Package B (Phases 2-4) from KM36.258 to KM50.698, including 10 bridges; and Package C (Phases 1-5) from KM50.698 to KM73.3, including nine bridges.
Meanwhile, the 36-month contracts for Package A (Phases 2-7) were signed between PWD, represented by director Zuraimi Sabki, and Debessa Development Sdn Bhd, Pekerjaan Piasau Konkerit Sdn Bhd, Untang Jaya Sdn Bhd and Samado Sdn Bhd.
The signing was witnessed by Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing, Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin, Kapit Resident Joseph Belayong and Recoda chief executive Tan Sri Wilson Baya Dandot.