KUCHING: The Sarawak governments efforts to bring coastal villages into the development mainstream will get a boost when the planned 675km coastal road network is completed by 2006.
State Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said that about 70% of the proposed network was ready.
The major uncompleted portions were a 178km stretch from Kidurong in Bintulu to Bakam in Miri; stretches between Balingian and Bintulu; and other stretches in the Mukah division in central Sarawak.
The proposed RM591mil Kidurong-Bakam stretch will be built through nine road projects, while the proposed Balingian-Bintulu road was being designed.
The coastal road network will link up the coastal areas from Sematan in Kuching division to Miri.
It is the intention of the state to connect these densely populated and predominantly poor areas along the coast to the main population centres, Wong said during a signing ceremony at Kuching Hilton yesterday to award two road projects to local firms.
He said the coastal road system would complement the states trunk road network.
Its completion would help to open up coastal land for various economic activities particularly in aquaculture sectors and processing industries, he said.
Wong said the main population centres would act as catalysts to spur socio-economic growth of the coastal villages as well as open up business and employment opportunities to improve the living standard of the villagers.
Wong said some of the coastal villages now depended on river transport, which could be disrupted by bad weather.
On the expansion of the Kuching-Serian road into a dual carriageway, he said the project was about five months behind schedule. The delay was due to squatters problems and the time needed to relocate public utilities, he said.