KUCHING: Sarawak plans to build a highway along its border with Kalimantan in view of Indonesia's relocation of its capital to its Borneo province by 2024.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said the new Indonesian capital in East Kalimantan would open up trade and tourism opportunities between Malaysia and Indonesia.
"Thus, it is now crucial for us to build a border road as the movement of people between Sarawak and Kalimantan is anticipated to increase in the next five to six years.
"More importantly, this border highway will enable us to safeguard and protect our multi-billion ringgit assets, especially the Sarawak-Sabah gas pipeline and four hydroelectric dams which are situated adjacent to our international boundary," he told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly in his winding-up speech on Wednesday (Nov 13).
Masing said the RM24bil proposed border road was estimated to have a total length of 1,032km and 610km of feeder roads, with implementation from 2020 to 2030 and beyond.
He said it would commence from Biawak to Serikin, Engkilili, Lubok Antu, Long Silat, Long Banga and Bario and would be connected to the proposed Sabah-Sarawak link road.
"An in-depth study will be carried out with priority given to four sections, namely the Baleh section and feeder road; Engkilili, Lubok Antu and Batang Ai section; Serian-Tebedu road upgrading; and Baram section and Tinjar feeder road," he said.
Masing also said the state government would submit the road project to the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry for consideration under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
"Since this is going to be a long stretch of road facing an international border, it is imperative that funding be provided by the federal government.
"It is for the security of our nation that this highway is proposed, thus funding is within the purview of the federal government," he said.
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