Don’t overlook Labuan in Trans-Borneo Railway project, says group

KOTA KINABALU: Labuan must be included in the proposed Trans-Borneo Railway after being overlooked in previous mega development projects, says a business group.

The Labuan Chamber of Commerce (LCC) said it was all for the railway project, adding that the island must not be overlooked during the planning phase.

“Labuan's inclusion in the Trans-Borneo Railway project is not merely a matter of necessity, but one of equity and fairness,” said its chairman Daniel Doughty, in a statement.

He said Labuan had previously been excluded from the Trans-Borneo Highway planning, adding the Prime Minister also had reservations over building the Labuan-Sabah bridge.

“Labuan, as a prominent financial, oil and gas, transhipment, and trade hub, cannot be marginalised once again.

“(Hence) Labuan must not be overlooked during the planning phase and we urge the state government to establish rail connections from Mempakul (near Labuan) to Beaufort, ensuring Labuan's seamless integration within the envisioned Trans-Borneo railway network,” he added.

Doughty was commenting on the proposal by Sarawak on the construction of the railway project which was aimed at providing a train service across the Borneo island.

The Sarawak government has submitted the proposal for the railway construction to the Transport Ministry, Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari said on Saturday (May 27).

He said that this was a Federal Government project, adding the service would also cover Sabah as well as provide a connection with Indonesia’s Kalimantan.

“Hence, there should also be discussions between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, because this project may involve these three countries,” he was quoted as saying.

Towards this end, Doughty underscored the significance of incorporating Labuan into the railway project, saying rail linkages from Mempakul to Beaufort will not only provide connectivity, but also enable Labuan to fully harness the economic opportunities.

“As part of this endeavour, the LCC reiterates the imperative need to relocate the Labuan roll-on, roll-off (roro) ferry terminal to Tanjung Aru on the island.

“By establishing the ferry service between Tanjung Aru in Labuan and Mempakul in Sabah, and subsequently creating a rail connection from Mempakul to Beaufort, Labuan's connectivity will be assured, and the advantages presented by the railway will be maximised,” he said.

He added that the LCC presented the rail connectivity between Mempakul and Beaufort proposal to Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, the senator representing Labuan, two months ago.

“We highlighted the role Labuan can play in improving the economy of the nearby mainland town with better connectivity to Labuan.

“The LCC remains steadfast in actively collaborating with relevant stakeholders, including the government and local communities, to ensure that Labuan's voice is heard, and its interests are represented throughout the planning and implementation stages of the railway project,” Doughty said.

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