KOTA KINABALU: Action must be taken to speed up the implementation of the Pan-Borneo highway project in Sabah that has been hit by changes in government, says Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.
He said that the highly awaited project involving a 1,236km road network that links most of Sabah was behind schedule.
“Of the 11 packages given out, the physical progress should be 32% but as of now only 21.2% have been achieved, ” he said, adding that the highway project was needed to boost the state’s economic development.
Phase one of the federal government project involves 706km that starts from the southwestern border town of Sindumin to Kota Kinabalu and to the east coast of Sandakan-Tawau.
It also involves the coastal highway from Tuaran to northern Kudat, he said.
Phase two involves upgrading the 98km road from Tamparuli to Ranau and the third phase involves 432km in southern Sabah that links the east coast Tawau town to interior Keningau and southwestern Beaufort.
“Under the original plan, 35 packages were given out, ” said Rahim.
However, with the change of the federal government after the 2018 general election, he said that the Pan-Borneo project implementation was put under the charge of the Sabah Public Works Department.
Rahim said that they were hoping now that the new Perikatan Nasional Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadhilah Yusof would take immediate steps to speed up the project’s implementation.
“He is experienced and had previously held the works ministry portfolio under the Barisan Nasional government. We hope that he will take immediate action to put the project back on track for full implementation, ” said Rahim, who is also Kudat MP.
He said the Tuaran- Kudat coastal plan was also awaited as it would be game changer for the economic development of the northern region of the state.
“If this project is completed, it will shorten the distance to a mere 124km from the current 180kms road link to the northern Sabah from Kota Kinabalu, ” he added.
It will open up the northern economic region and the coastal road would make tourism the “gold coast” of Sabah, he said, adding that the potentials of aquaculture and farming would also be opened up.
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