Monday, 7 January 2019, Kuching: The once inaccessible Telok Melano is now just a scenic and comfortable 30 minutes’ drive from Sematan with the practical completion of the 32.770 km stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak.
A simple signing ceremony between Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak PDP, Lebuhraya Borneo Utara, and Samling Resources to hand-over the Certificate of WPC Completion was held last Friday in Sematan.
The ceremony was witnessed by officials from the Works Ministry Malaysia, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation (MIDT) Sarawak and State Public Works Department (JKRS).
Construction of the Telok Melano - Sematan stretch began in September 2015 and took 39 months to complete. Although the shortest of all Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak works packages, construction was however not without its challenges.
Main contractor, Samling Resources, had to construct the alignment in a greenfield area criss-crossing six rivers and swamp. With one third of this R5 standard 2-lane dual carriageway road alignment lying within the Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary, certain unique conditions were imposed on the construction activities.
This included observing the stipulated working hours limit set by the Wildlife Department, as well as designing and building a longer than normal bridge over Sungai Samunsam in order to minimise disruption to the local habitat of the area. It is known that proboscis monkeys live in the sanctuary.
With the completion of this stretch now, it means the people can now drive to the hidden tourism jewel of Telok Melano which in the past was only accessible by sea.
Special tribute should be given to the former Chief Minister of Sarawak, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, who requested for this stretch to be included in the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak as he foresaw the tourism potential of Telok Melano.
LBU chief executive officer Ir. Safuani Abdul Hamid in his speech at the signing ceremony said the completion of the Telok Melano to Sematan stretch would serve as a morale booster to the entire Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project.
“I believe this will be a catalyst to other main contractors to work harder to get their respective works packages completed on time.
“Construction of this mega project across the large state of Sarawak is not easy. We face many challenges – weather, land and site challenges, and live traffic. However, we take all these challenges in our stride. Sarawak’s people cannot wait to drive on the Pan Borneo Highway,” he said.
“The completion of Telok Melano-Sematan stretch is definitely something that we cherish as it marks the first “pass” that we have achieved.
“This is a milestone which will push us to continue working harder towards completing the remaining 10 works packages,” he added.
Permanent Secretary to MIDT Datu Safri Zainuddin who also spoke at the ceremony congratulated LBU and Samling Resources for successfully completing the stretch two days ahead.
Meanwhile, MIDT in a statement today reminded the public that the stretch had yet to be opened to road users as it has not been gazetted by the Government.
The stretch is expected to be opened to public once it is gazetted and officially launched by the end of January.