MIRI: Several crucial infrastructure projects in rural northern Sarawak involving bridge and road construction have come to a sudden standstill.
This follows the loss of the Barisan Nasional Government in Putrajaya on May 9.
Native villagers are now concerned about the fate of these projects which were started by Barisan.
Even the local politicians do not know what will happen next.
In interior northern Sarawak in the Baram parliamentary constituency, there are two major bridge projects plus several road upgrading projects.
These projects were kick-started during the run-up to the 14th General Elections.
Kampung Tutoh Lakiput community association chairman, Michael Ding, told The Star the local folk were worried there would be major delays for these projects or these projects may not continue.
“There are two big bridge projects started by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Baram – the Long Lama bridge (which costs RM84mil) and the Marudi bridge (RM80mil).
“The construction of the Long Lama bridge began middle of last year and the pillars are only about 40% built.
“There seem to be no workers at the site now – has the project been stopped or only halted temporarily pending developments at the federal level?” he asked.
He added that the groundwork for the Marudi bridge project only started last month.
“These two bridges are crucial links to the outside world for more than 50,000 people there,” he said.
The Lakiputs are one of the minority Orang Ulu ethnic groups in Sarawak.
During the elections, The Star visited the Long Lama bridge project site and saw no workers or construction activity.
Baram Barisan youth chief Dennis Ngau shared similar concerns as to the fate of these projects. Ngau, who is Telang Usan assemblyman, said the Federal Government funded these projects directly through the Public Works Department (JKR) and the department paid the contractor based on the work packages completed.
“I am not sure what will happen next. All we want is to see these projects continue and completed.
“Tens of thousands of rural people depend on these bridge and road projects to be completed.
“I am sure the new Federal Government will sustain the financial funding from Putrrajaya to JKR and local contractors to continue these projects,” he added.
Asked if he or the state leaders would get in touch with Putrajaya to alert them on this matter, Ngau said they were not sure which ministry or who to contact.
“The full Federal Cabinet is still being set up.
“Who is the new federal minister for public infrastructure projects?
“We at the state level will have to wait until the picture at the national level is clearer,” he said.
Ngau said the state leaders had the same concerns and they hoped that all projects promised by former prime minister Najib for rural Sarawak will be fulfilled and completed by the new Government under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.