Bypass Brunei to benefit rural folks, boost tourism and economic growth

Goh Pei Pei

KUCHING: Works Minister Baru Bian welcomes the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement on the possible diversion of the Miri-Lawas-Sindumin road, bypassing Brunei Darussalam, for the Pan Borneo Highway project.

In a statement today, he said a diversion is necessary for a number of reasons, including open up the interior of Sarawak for agricultural activities and business opportunities.

There are several longhouses around the area, and the residents will benefit from the connectivity that this diversion will provide.

Besides, it will boost the tourism industry as travelling to the various attractions in the area will become easier.

“Places such as Mulu, Mount Murud and Batu Lawi have huge potential for tourism, especially the latter two destinations which have not been promoted as tourist destinations,” he said, adding that it will be a lifeline for Limbang as at the moment there is a highway from Miri to Temburong bypassing Limbang.

The proposed diversion, Baru Bian said, will go through Limbang and spur economic growth there.

“Apart from that, bypassing of Brunei will make it easier for patients from the rural regions of Baram, Bario and Ba’ Kelalan to get medical treatment in Miri Hospital.

“Currently, patients who need critical care have to cross Brunei to reach Miri hospital. This is a problem for many as not everyone holds a passport,” he said.

“The alternative is to be flown by helicopter – this is out of reach for most folks. Patients from Lawas needing critical treatment currently have to go to the hospital in Kota Kinabalu, and this is an added stress on the hospital in Sabah,” he added.

The Works Ministry has started to look at the best alignment for the diversion and will closely monitor the progress.

Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam have agreed in principle that the Pan Borneo Highway project connecting Sabah and Sarawak will not go through Brunei.

A mutual understanding was reached following a meeting between Tun Dr Mahathir and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah which took place at the Nurul Iman palace in conjunction with the former’s official visit to Brunei Darussalam. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd