MIRI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched eight packages of the Pan Borneo Highway costing RM12.5bil.
The eight additional packages are at various locations in several districts stretching from the southern Sematan district to Miri in the north and near the border at Lawas.
Najib said the main contractors for these packages would be Sarawakians.
“I am fulfilling the promise I made to the people of Sarawak that the Pan Borneo Highway will be upgraded all the way from the southernmost part of Sematan to the north in Miri.
“This is only the first phase, which will be completed by 2021. After that, the second phase will be from Miri through Brunei and onwards to Limbang and Lawas into Sabah.
“I am happy with the progress that we are making on the ground. In fact, we are ahead of schedule in some areas,” he said at the launching ceremony in Miri city yesterday.
Also present was Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
Four other packages had already been launched in the southernmost regions of Sarawak.
In total, RM16.9bil of federal funds have been approved for the project.
Adenan thanked Najib and the Federal Government for their commitment in realising a very crucial project that will provide more efficient and smoother land link for the 1,000km route of this vast state.
The highway would help create socio-economic spin-offs that would benefit the rural frontiers, he added.
On a separate matter, Najib said bureaucratic red tape involving land journeys between Malaysia and Brunei would soon be resolved.
He said the Brunei government had in principle agreed to resolve the issue of bureaucracy along the common border with Malaysia and had set up a technical committee for the purpose.
“The committee is looking into facilitating land journeys without the need for passport checks.
“This matter is being studied and we should be getting a final decision soon,” he added.
Najib said now, Malaysians from Sabah and Sarawak and the people of Brunei had to go through eight Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes in order to get from Sabah to Sarawak and vice-versa.
This resulted in the passports of people who frequently commute between Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei to be stamped as many as 16 times, he added.