Shafie: Upgrade existing roads instead of building new ones to protect the environment

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is re-looking at project proposals for the Pan-Borneo Highway, with a view to expand existing roads instead of building new ones, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said that there would be new approaches for the projects, and the government could take over the implementation instead of private companies managing them.

Shafie said he held long discussions with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Works Minister Baru Bian about different approaches to speed up the Pan-Borneo Highway projects in Sabah without the involvement of private project delivery partners (PDP).

He said that the federal government would drop the PDP model in favour of a turnkey approach.

"How can private companies be allowed to manage billions of ringgit (for the projects)? We (the government) must be accountable for the money spent.

"Let the government departments like the Public Works Department, the Federal Finance Ministry and the state get involved and make it more transparent," he told reporters on Thursday (March 21) after the Heart of Borneo conference here.

The Pan-Borneo Highway projects are being carried out by Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd (BHP) in Sabah while Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) handles the projects in Sarawak.

There are a total of 35 parcels of projects worth RM12.8bil being implemented in Sabah, which are expected to be completed by 2025 under the project launched by the previous Barisan Nasional government in 2016.

Shafie said that he had also raised concerns about proposed new roads which would unnecessarily cut through forest reserves.

"I hope they take it seriously, I told them not to flatten hills and chop trees, but just expand existing roads that we have," he said adding that this would result in "new" roads without sacrificing the environment.

Shafie also said that expanding existing roads was faster then creating new road alignments that would be tedious and take a longer time.

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