Basic infrastructure and amenities prioritised over LRT

Abang Johari (left) speaking at a high tea with the media.

KUCHING: Sarawak’s proposed light rail transit (LRT) system will be implemented based on need following a review by the state government.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said although the LRT master plan had been done, the state government also needed to give priority to basic infrastructure development in rural areas.

“LRT is one way for us to modernise our public transport. But before that happens, we have to plan it properly and it also involves cost implications.

“I have requested the authorities plan the LRT, but we also need funds for basic rural amenities,” he said during a high tea with the media.

As such, Abang Johari said the LRT would likely be implemented only if there was a real need in highly congested areas based on the master plan.

“Say for example Kuching to Samarahan is very congested. If there is a need, maybe we will do that portion only.

“If other areas want it and the volume is there, we do another portion. So the implementation depends on need.

“But the master plan must be there from Serian to Kuching and the lines that we have identified are there in the master plan,” he said.

In March, Abang Johari had announced that the proposed LRT would cost an estimated RM10.8bil and was expected to be operational in 2024.

The project’s master plan comprised the Damai Line covering 59.7km from Muara Tuang in Samarahan to Damai, the 84km Serian Line from Serian to Senari port in Muara Tebas and an 11km dispersal line in the city centre.

On another matter, Abang Johari said the coastal highway project was expected to start construction next year.

“It is in the process of tendering and perhaps by the middle of next year the first portion will start,” he said.

He also said the state government was looking into abolishing ferry fares next year to further reduce the financial burden of rural folk.

“We are now calculating how much it will cost the state government. By next year we will abolish ferry charges across Sarawak,” he said.

The fares were previously reduced to a flat rate of RM1 by the late chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in 2015.

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