The overall development cost of the Pan Borneo Highway project on Sarawak's side is expected to be cut by some RM660mil from RM16.49bil.
This will bring down the project cost by about 4% to RM15.83bil.
The revised cost is the result of cost-cutting and optimisation measures without having to compromise on the quality of works of the most ambitious Sarawak infrastructure project.
Works Minister Baru Bian was informed of this by Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd, the project delivery partner, during a briefing while on site inspection to assess the progress of the project last week, sources told StarBiz.
In August, Baru was quoted in media reports as saying that the project cost of Pan Borneo Highway was being reviewed and that he was closely monitoring the project to ensure its completion by 2021.
Baru led a 100-member entourage comprising senior officials from the Works Ministry, Sarawak Infrastructure Development and Transportation Ministry and Public Works Department during a three-day Jelajah FT Roadpedia to look at the progress at all the 11 work packages under phase one of the project.
The project's overall works progress now is about 35%.
Eleven public-listed companies from Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia are among 20 firms awarded main contracts under the 11 work packages.
Phase one, which covers 786km, stretches from fishing village Telok Melano in southern Sarawak to Miri in the northern region of the state.
Also to be constructed are 114 bridges across rivers, 57 pedestrian bridges, 17 interchanges and 595 bus shelters along the highway.
However, no decision has been made by the federal government on the implementation of the project's phase two which will link Sarawak via Limbang division with Sabah.
Construction of the 32.77km Telok Melano-Sematan stretch (work package one) is most advanced, having achieved 85% progress.
The stretch is expected to be completed and open to traffic early next year, according to the latest LBU report.
It comprises six bridges undertaken by Miri-based Samling Resources Sdn Bhd.
This single-lane dual carriageway, costing RM580mil, was added to the Pan Borneo highway project on the request of former Chief Minister the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
Samling Resources is also the main contractor for a second work package - Sematan to Sungai Moyan + Kuching-Serian roundabout - covering 95.4km.
This stretch of four-lane carriageway, which also involves the construction of six interchanges and 22 bridges, is the longest among the 11 packages.
While inspecting the RM1.33bil Sungai Kua Bridge to Sungai Arip Bridge package (covering 63.68km) undertaken by Musyati-Mudajaya JV, Baru launched a RM1.5mil school project undertaken and sponsored by the contractor.
The project in Selangau near Sibu involves the upgrading of the dilapidated SK Sungai Buloh, construction of eight units teacher quarters, refurbishment of the hostels for pupils and canteen.
Musyati-Mudajaya JV was named the "best performing work package" for first-half 2018 in a project assessment system introduced by LBU.
The system is to evaluate the performances of the 11 work packages' contractors in several fields such as work planning, risks, contracts, health, safety and environment and quality.
Musyati-Mudajaya JV also won the "best bumiputra relations" award.
Award winners in other categories were: Endaya TRC PK JV (best health and safety); KKB WCT JV (best environmental); Naim Gamuda JV (best traffic managment,best contract and claims as well as best quality management); Perkerjaan Piasau Konkerit Sdn Bhd (best quality management); Zecon Kimlun Consortium (best CSR) and KKB WCT JV (best risk management as well as best project integrated management system).
LBU launched a week-long campaign last Wednesday to promote HSE and trafffic safety along the Pan Borneo Highway.
The campaign included a series of internal and various public engagement activities to be held by various work packages.