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Phase 1 of Pan Borneo Highway project ‘quite on schedule’ – Baru

KUCHING: The first phase of the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sarawak is 22 per cent completed – two per cent ahead of schedule as of yesterday.

Works Minister Baru Bian announced this at a press conference following his inaugural working visit to the Public Works Department (JKR) Sarawak office at Wisma Saberkas here yesterday.

According to him, the first phase of the mega project is “quite on schedule” but he cannot predict what is going to happen next.

Baru, who is Selangau MP and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, conceded that a package or two were a little behind time even though the overall first phase was ahead of schedule.

He said the severest on record thus far was the stretch from the Serian roundabout to the Pantu junction, which registered a 7.9 per cent delay.

Earlier, he said all 50 projects of upgrading dilapidated schools (DS) in Sarawak using the Industrialised Building System (IBS) that had been awarded to JKR Sarawak would be completed by August this year.

He added that the total project cost was RM138 million.

“These 50 DS projects are among the total of 116 that have been awarded to Sarawak. Apart from these 116 DS, there are 210 more DS that need to be upgraded,” he pointed out.

The remainder of the 116 DS which currently face severe delay in implementation are still under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (MoE).

Baru said he could not answer for the progress of the 66 DS which had been given to MoE for implementation and supervision.

He opined that the delay in implementation of the 66 DS could be due to “no close supervision”.

He said his ministry would not mind taking over the 66 DS projects if MoE was willing to relinquish the responsibility.

“We do what has been given to us. And what has been given to JKR, we have (done it with) good record. I can say excellent record including JKR Sarawak,” he said after nearly two hours of briefing by various JKR Sarawak officers.

Baru said both JKR in Sarawak and Sabah are independent but have been working closely with the Works Ministry all along.

“I’m very happy to note that a lot of projects have been taken care of. JKR (Sarawak) is trying its best to resolve (issues) and implement projects under its care.

“KKR (Works Ministry) is ever ready to help and assist JKR Sarawak,” he said.

He acknowledged that Sarawak lacked proper road access in its interior region, an issue which his ministry will look into in order to improve the situation.

He said he looked forward to visiting some project sites in the state the next time he has a meeting with JKR Sarawak.

Asked whether his ministry will scrap the toll concession system in Peninsular Malaysia as part of fulfilling the election promises made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the last general election, Baru said they “will look at the whole thing”.

He said the issue “is not a straight forward case” and should involve serious discussion within the federal cabinet.

He added that the ministry will have to look into the subject matter and study it before deciding which direction to pursue.

Source: Borneo Post