Best connections

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Sarawak has a massive land area with a relatively small population, which means being judicious in spending money when it comes to building roads. Despite this, MIDCom Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Ak. Jawong is determined to improve connectivity in the state. 

Connecting the people of Sarawak is top priority for the state’s Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications (MIDCom) as it tries to bring together communities from all over its 124,000 square kilometres of terrain through a well-planned road network.

MIDCom Minister, The Honourable Dato Sri Michael Manyin Ak. Jawong, said that while the will is strong, the reality of Sarawak’s sheer size means that funding for many projects is difficult to come by.

“Our priority is connectivity,” he said. “There are people who live in rural areas that are still not accessible by road. We are a big state but we have only about 2.5 million people who are spread out across the entire area.

“To build a road to connect a village of 2,000 people to a major town, the costs run into the billions of ringgit. Density is very small so it is difficult and expensive to build roads.”

Roads in Sarawak are categorised depending on the area and width. Rural roads fall into the codes R1, R3, R5 and R7, the narrowest R1 roads being five metres wide.

“R7 is the biggest but this does not mean that it is a dual carriageway,” said Dato Sri Michael. “These roads are still sub-standard, gravel roads good for the kampong (village). However, we don’t mind whether it is going to be R1, R3 or R5 as long as there is some kind of connectivity.”

Dato Sri Michael said his ministry needs funding for two projects he considers urgent and in which foreign investment, particularly from the Middle East, would be welcome.

The first is a road network within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) area that would cost about RM6 billion.

Another project is a RM500 million, 60-kilometre dual carriageway road to be built from Bintulu Town to the Samalaju Industrial Park, which is SCORE’s key zone for heavy industries.

He said his ministry engineers have completed the designs and construction can start once funding is secured.

“The planning has been done, the design is done and we are ever ready to implement the project,” said Dato Sri Michael, who added that the Bintulu-Samalaju proposal has been sent to the Prime Minister’s office in Kuala Lumpur in the hope of financial support.

“The focus is on areas where there is an urgent need,” he said. “So, first priority would be SCORE. There is also a need for Bintulu-Samalaju. I have seen the place and there are already people working now who need this road.”

MIDCom is also eager to improve the road connection from the Sematan in the east to Miri in the northwest, a distance of about 1,000 kilometres. Dato Sri said only one kilometre of this road features a dual carriageway, prompting appeals from the public for more overtaking lanes.

However, a recent request for funding to construct more overtaking lanes was turned down by the federal government.

“To build the entire stretch as a dual carriageway would cost us RM16 billion, so that is probably beyond our means at the moment,” said Dato Sri Michael.

“So, we have been asking for overtaking lanes. That would really solve the problem. We are not asking for RM16 billion to build a highway. We just want overtaking lanes.”

MIDCom, according to Dato Sri Michael, is one of the largest ministries in Sarawak because of its diverse portfolio of responsibilities.

The ministry’s Public Works Department, the largest agency within MIDCom, is entrusted with managing much of its remit, including roads, water supply and buildings.

The major sea ports in Sarawak also come under MIDCom’s purview. These comprise the Kuching Port Authority, Rajang Port Authority and Miri Port Authority. The Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) is under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

BPA will manage the Samalaju Port, being built to handle sea traffic at Samalaju Industrial Park, once it is completed.

The Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corporation, Sarawak Rivers Board and Buoys and Lights Board are also under MIDCom’s management.

MIDCom began as the Ministry of Communication and Works after Malaysia achieved independence in 1963. Its first Minister was the current Sarawak Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

In 1984, the name changed to Ministry of Works and Special Functions but only one year later became the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

To reflect its roles more accurately, the organisation changed its name to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications in 1996. Dato Sri Michael has been its Minister since 1 December 2009.

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sarawak has a massive land area with a relatively small population, which means being judicious in spending money when it comes to building roads. Despite this, MIDCom Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Ak. Jawong is determined to improve connectivity in the state. 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sarawak has a massive land area with a relatively small population, which means being judicious in spending money when it comes to building roads. Despite this, MIDCom Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Ak. Jawong is determined to improve connectivity in the state. 

Connecting the people of Sarawak is top priority for the state’s Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications (MIDCom) as it tries to bring together communities from all over its 124,000 square kilometres of terrain through a well-planned road network.

MIDCom Minister, The Honourable Dato Sri Michael Manyin Ak. Jawong, said that while the will is strong, the reality of Sarawak’s sheer size means that funding for many projects is difficult to come by.

“Our priority is connectivity,” he said. “There are people who live in rural areas that are still not accessible by road. We are a big state but we have only about 2.5 million people who are spread out across the entire area.

“To build a road to connect a village of 2,000 people to a major town, the costs run into the billions of ringgit. Density is very small so it is difficult and expensive to build roads.”

Roads in Sarawak are categorised depending on the area and width. Rural roads fall into the codes R1, R3, R5 and R7, the narrowest R1 roads being five metres wide.

“R7 is the biggest but this does not mean that it is a dual carriageway,” said Dato Sri Michael. “These roads are still sub-standard, gravel roads good for the kampong (village). However, we don’t mind whether it is going to be R1, R3 or R5 as long as there is some kind of connectivity.”

Dato Sri Michael said his ministry needs funding for two projects he considers urgent and in which foreign investment, particularly from the Middle East, would be welcome.

The first is a road network within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) area that would cost about RM6 billion.

Another project is a RM500 million, 60-kilometre dual carriageway road to be built from Bintulu Town to the Samalaju Industrial Park, which is SCORE’s key zone for heavy industries.

He said his ministry engineers have completed the designs and construction can start once funding is secured.

“The planning has been done, the design is done and we are ever ready to implement the project,” said Dato Sri Michael, who added that the Bintulu-Samalaju proposal has been sent to the Prime Minister’s office in Kuala Lumpur in the hope of financial support.

“The focus is on areas where there is an urgent need,” he said. “So, first priority would be SCORE. There is also a need for Bintulu-Samalaju. I have seen the place and there are already people working now who need this road.”

MIDCom is also eager to improve the road connection from the Sematan in the east to Miri in the northwest, a distance of about 1,000 kilometres. Dato Sri said only one kilometre of this road features a dual carriageway, prompting appeals from the public for more overtaking lanes.

However, a recent request for funding to construct more overtaking lanes was turned down by the federal government.

“To build the entire stretch as a dual carriageway would cost us RM16 billion, so that is probably beyond our means at the moment,” said Dato Sri Michael.

“So, we have been asking for overtaking lanes. That would really solve the problem. We are not asking for RM16 billion to build a highway. We just want overtaking lanes.”

MIDCom, according to Dato Sri Michael, is one of the largest ministries in Sarawak because of its diverse portfolio of responsibilities.

The ministry’s Public Works Department, the largest agency within MIDCom, is entrusted with managing much of its remit, including roads, water supply and buildings.

The major sea ports in Sarawak also come under MIDCom’s purview. These comprise the Kuching Port Authority, Rajang Port Authority and Miri Port Authority. The Bintulu Port Authority (BPA) is under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

BPA will manage the Samalaju Port, being built to handle sea traffic at Samalaju Industrial Park, once it is completed.

The Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corporation, Sarawak Rivers Board and Buoys and Lights Board are also under MIDCom’s management.

MIDCom began as the Ministry of Communication and Works after Malaysia achieved independence in 1963. Its first Minister was the current Sarawak Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

In 1984, the name changed to Ministry of Works and Special Functions but only one year later became the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

To reflect its roles more accurately, the organisation changed its name to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communications in 1996. Dato Sri Michael has been its Minister since 1 December 2009.

 

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