The Pan Borneo Highway will benefit Sarawak in terms of development, economy and unity.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the project would not only be a catalyst for economic growth but a game changer that would bring huge transformations to the state’s landscape.
The RM16-billion project was also expected to create an eight-fold multiplier effect on the state’s economy, he said.
“Thirdly, if we want to be a united and developed state, we must ensure a better and effective connectivity for the people, not only in terms of telecommunications like handphone, but also in terms of mobility.
“When this highway is completed, it will be easier for Sarawakians and Malaysians in general to move around and communicate with one another.
“This will surely strengthen the spirit of unity and turn Sarawak to be more united,” Najib said when launching the construction of the 75km stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway project from Serian roundabout to Pantu junction here yesterday.
He said construction of the stretch costing about RM1.46 billion was the third and biggest package compared to the other two packages launched previously. The first package is from Telok Melano to Sematan and the second from Nyabau to Bakun intersection.
By the end of this year, 10 packages of the project would be implemented in Sarawak. The fourth package is to be launched next month, he added.
“The Pan Borneo Highway project is a gift from the federal government to Sarawak. In April 2013, I made a pledge that if BN (Barisan Nasional) is given the mandate in the 13th general election, one of our main promises is that we would implement Pan Borneo Highway for Sarawak. We honoured our promises to Sarawakians.”
Najib assured that the Pan Borneo Highway project would be implemented despite the drop in prices of oil and commodities, adding what made it more meaningful was that the highway would be without toll.
With the states in Peninsular Malaysia from Perlis to Johor seeing rapid development and changes after the construction of the North-South Highway, he believed that Sarawak too would see tremendous development from Sematan to Lawas after the Pan Borneo Highway project is completed.
“When the federal government agreed for this highway project to be implemented, I told them early that I wanted the contracts for this project, be they small or big, to be awarded only to Sarawakian companies owned by Sarawakians.”
In reiterating his commitment to Sarawak, he said the government of the day did not only have a dream for Sarawak, but also plans and vision for the people of Sarawak because Sarawakians needed to get all the benefits for being a partner in the federation.
“Don’t be influenced by the opposition – they can promise anything but they cannot deliver for the people of Sarawak. We have delivered for the people of Sarawak. I also said when we implement this project we must be fair because Sarawak has many races and ethnicities.--BP
“We have to ensure that there is social justice in anything we do and all the ethnics will benefit from the implementation of this Pan Borneo Highway project. We want to ensure that the people of Sarawak would benefit from this.”
Among those present at the event were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot, Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin, Assistant Minister of Resource Planning Datuk Naroden Majais and Deputy State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Roland Sagah.