Pan-Borneo link to boost Sarawak’s interior, says minister

Sulok Tawie
Baru Bian speaks to reporters at the Works Ministry in Kuala Lumpur July 3, 2018. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUCHING, Sept 6 ― The construction of the Miri-Lawas route of the Sarawak’s stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway will open up the interior of the northern region for agricultural and business opportunities for the local communities, Works Minister Baru Bian said today.

He said there are several longhouses around the area and the residents will benefit from the connectivity that this route will provide.

“Tourism will also get a boost, as travelling to the various attractions in the area will become easier as places such as Mulu, Mount Murud and Batu Lawi have huge potential for tourism,” he said.

He said the Miri-Lawas route will also boost Limbang’s economic activities.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently announced that the federal government would construct the missing link from Miri to Lawas and then to connect to the border town of Sindumin in Sabah, by-passing Brunei.

Presently, Sarawakians going from Miri to Limbang and then to Lawas or from Lawas to Limbang and then Miri have to go through Brunei, causing a lot of inconveniences to them.

The Sarawak’s stretch of the highway starts from Telok Melano in the southern tip and ends in Miri in the northern region of Sarawak.

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

He said 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. The alternative is to be flown by helicopter ― this is out of reach for most folks,” he said, adding that 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.

Baru, who is also the assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan and Selangau Member of Parliament, said the much-needed diversion therefore is potentially a life-saver for the people of northern Sarawak.

 ”The Works Ministry has started to look at the best alignment for this diversion and I will personally monitor the progress,” he said.

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