Handing it back to Sabah govt

KUALA LUMPUR: Abolishing the project delivery partner (PDP) model in the construction of the Pan Borneo High­way in Sabah would smoo­then the process and result in further cost savings, says Works Minister Baru Bian.

Baru, who is also Selangau MP, said with the PDP out of the picture, the onus would now be on the Sabah government to see that portion of the project through.

“I think this will be crucial because this project is in the state, so you need the cooperation of the state. Therefore, the responsibility is now upon them. We can administer and supervise from Kuala Lumpur but implementation on the ground is very important,” he said.

He said it was important for the Federal Government to get the state’s buy-in as certain matters in the construction of the highway, such as removal of utilities and land acquisition, were under the state’s purview.

“If you do not have cooperation from the state, you are dead. And I think that is the principle behind all this. You want to be efficient and implement it correctly and smoothly.”

Baru said giving the responsibility to the Sabah government would make it take better steps to properly implement the project.

“It may be a federal project but it is for the people’s benefit in Sabah. Because of that, I believe we should expect that kind of effici­ency in the implementation of the project,” he said, adding that the government had yet to decide on whether the PDP model would be abolished in Sarawak as well.

On Friday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had approved the request to abolish PDPs and the government was currently drawing up a framework for giving the contracts to the Sabah government to manage.

Separately, Baru said studies were ongoing as to how the Pakatan Harapan government could effectively abolish tolls, as listed in its manifesto for the 14th General Election.

“We expect the studies to be completed in May be­fore we make an announcement in June,” he said.

The study’s findings could also determine whether the government would introduce a “congestion charge” in lieu of tolls during peak hours, he added.

In February, the government began talks with Gamuda Bhd to negotiate the acquisition of highway concessions for four main highways – Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong, Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat, Lebuhraya Shah Alam and SMART Tunnel – to fulfil its promise to abolish tolls in stages.

The government seeks to abolish the current toll mechanism and introduce a “congestion charge” for six hours of peak period and allowing motorists to use highways for free between 11pm and 5am.

Motorists travelling at normal hours could enjoy discounted rates of up to 30% compared to the existing tolls.

Baru said the government had begun fulfilling its promise to abolish tolls by first removing the fees for motorcyclists at the Penang Bridge and the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge in Penang, as well as at the Tanjung Kupang toll plaza on the Second Link Expressway in Johor, lightening the burden of paying tolls for about 72,000 motorcyclists since Jan 1.

“This initiative has enabled motorcyclists to save between RM24 and RM66 a month,” he said.


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