KUCHING, Sept 4 ― The Sarawak government today lauded the move by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government to construct the missing link in the Pan Borneo Highway from Miri to Lawas before it connects with the Sabah stretch of the highway.
Sarawak's stretch of the highway begins at Telok Melano in the southern tip and ends in Miri in the northern part of Sarawak.
"I agree with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the highway should by-pass Brunei," Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said when responding to the prime minister's statement yesterday.
He said the route should originate from Marudi Town to Long Terawan then hugging Mulu National Park along the border with Brunei, straight to Hulu Sungai Limbang, Hulu Sungai Trusan and then to Lawas town before joining Sabah's stretch of the highway.
"This route will open up the upper reaches of Sungai Limbang and Sungai Trusan in Lawas," he said, adding that this highway will benefit the communities residing in the interior of Sarawak northern region.
Masing, who is also the state Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister, said the distance of the missing stretch is about 250km and it will cost about RM3.5 billion to construct.
Speaking to reporters in Bandar Seri Begawan, the prime minister had said the highway project, connecting Sarawak and Sabah, would not cut into Brunei.
Dr Mahathir, who was on an official visit to Brunei, had said the plan had always been to continue building the highway due to its importance to Sabah and Sarawak, but it would not enter Brunei, as initially planned.
Works Minister Baru Bian had recently reaffirmed that the federal government would construct the proposed alternative route or missing link from Miri to Limbang and Lawas through Long Lama, Marudi and Bario by-passing Brunei.
He had said the construction of the route would solve problems such as passport usage among Sarawakians and transporting food items such as rice and other things by residents of Limbang, Lawas and Miri through Brunei.