S’wak govt takes on army project

A part of the Bakelalan highland road project that was under the Jiwa Murni project. — Stephen Then/The Star

MIRI: The Sarawak government will be taking over from the army corps the state’s highest mountain road project linking Bario and Bakelalan settlements in the Crocker Range.

The 60km road link on top of the 2,500m mountain was under the army’s Jiwa Murni project, launched by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration two years ago.

Following the change in the Federal government after the 14th General Elections, the Bario-Bakelalan road project was caught in limbo.

Yesterday, it was learnt that the project may be given to a timber company.

Bakelalan Progressive Democratic Party division chief Datuk Nelson Balang Rining said he heard that the project may be reactivated.

“The state government is taking over the project and a local company may take over the road construction if the army corps are not going to complete it,” he said.

The Bakelalan to Bario link would benefit more than 3,000 people in the highlands, where the native Lun Bawangs and Kelabits are living.

That road is one of six major Jiwa Murni projects that have stalled following the change in the federal administration.

Native land rights activist Abun Sui suggested that the Sarawak government take over all six rural road projects from the army.

He added that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced RM50mil state funds was allocated to repair the Belaga-Menjawah road that collapsed.

“It is time that the state government carry out a review of every rural road built under the Jiwa Murni project.

“The Belaga to Menjawah road is a 60km road built under the Jiwa Murni concept last year.

“It did not last long. It caved in following prolonged heavy rain that caused ground instability.

“This is not the only Jiwa Murni road that is facing structural problems,” he said, adding that roads under this project in rural districts and highlands such as Bakelakan were also breaking up.

He also said the state government should take over the maintenance of all Jiwa Murni roads.

The Jiwa Murni projects carried out by the army costs only 35% of the regular costs of construction.

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