The decision of the Sarawak government to proceed with the construction of the Batang Lupar, Batang Rambungan and the Batang Igan bridges is very much welcomed, said Minister of Works Baru Bian.
He added that if the state government is capable of funding the construction of the bridges on its own, it should proceed as planned and avoid complaining that the federal government is not assisting them financially.
“Let it be clear that all of the three bridges is part of the coastal road (project) which makes it a state road and not a federal road,” Baru told a press conference at his Christmas and New Year open house at the MBKS community hall yesterday.
He added that the previous federal government had agreed to fully fund the construction of the Batang Rambungan and the Batang Igan bridges while the Batang Lupar bridge would be done on a 50-50 basis.
“We took over the government in a constrained environment in terms of finance. That is why the decision to delay the construction of the three projects has been made. That does not mean we are not fighting for Sarawakians, because we need to be prudent in spending, constructing or having new projects,” said Baru.
The country, he added, is in debt of more than RM1 trillion, thus the government needs to be wise in its spending and try not to increase the nation’s debt any further.
He noted that the Sarawak government had two months ago made a proposal to the federal government to be reimbursed under the 12th Malaysia Plan once the construction of the three bridges is completed.
However, no decision has been made as the ministry needs to further discuss the proposal with the Ministry of Finance and other related ministries, he added.
On another note, he revealed that several unjust comments had been made against the federal government for not looking at the plight and needs of Sarawak, which he regarded as rather unfair.
“We must remember that many projects are financed by the federal government such as the Batang Sadong bridge and also the Pan Borneo Highway. Do not tell me that we are not bothered with Sarawak. These small things are actually politicised,” he added.
He further said other federal projects in the state were also being carried out such as those related to health, education, rural development and agriculture.