Study gets underway for proposed upgrading of much-maligned Pan Borneo Highway

KUCHING: A study is underway to upgrade Pan Borneo Highway, the country’s longest Federal road system, to R5 Standard.

R5 Standard is defined as Federal roads or highways with limited access control and speed limit up to 90kmh. Besides the required width, R5 roads / highways should have, among other things, road shoulders.

According to Works Deputy Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Seng, who earlier on performed the earth-breaking ceremony for the Batu Kawa Bridge Package B project here yesterday, the Pan Borneo Highway was narrow and had many dangerous spots.

He said the highway, which stretches from Sematan to Lawas and covering some 1,047km, needed extension and improvement to dangerous stretches, to ensure the safety of road users.

“The proposed upgrading of the Pan Borneo Highway is expected to cost an estimated RM16bil (based on the Malaysian Highway Development Masterplan completed in 2008),” he told reporters.

The Pan Borneo Highway was built more than 30 years ago, and most of the stretches are without street lightings. Through the Lawas-Temburong (Brunei) stretch, motorists from Sarawak can drive up to Sabah.

Communications Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who was also present, said Sarawak was seeking funding from the Works Ministry to construct 95 overtaking lanes along the Pan Borneo Highway at an estimated cost of RM380mil.

He hoped that the Federal government would give priority to Sarawak’s request as such lanes would make it safe for motorists to overtake other vehicles.

“As Sarawak is still lacking behind in road infrastructure development, we hope the Federal Government will give priority in fund allocation under the 10th Malaysia Plan so that more villages could be linked up to the main road system,” said Lee.

Lee thanked the Federal Government for financing major road projects like the Jalan Song flyover here and flyovers in Miri.

Earlier speaking at the ceremony, Yong said under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, his ministry allocated nearly RM2.09bil for infrastructure development in Sarawak.

According to him, between 2006 and 2010, Kuching was allocated RM430.4mil to carry out various infrastructure projects.

These projects include the BDC Flyover, Stutong Link Road, upgrading of the road to the Kuching International Airport, Jalan Mambong-Sejingkat, Jalan Sultan Tengah and Taman Matang Jaya-Demak-Semariang new road.

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