RM1.5 billion approved to develop highlands in northern Sarawak – Abg Johari

Posted on : 30 Jul 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari hits the gong 14 times to symbolically launch the 14th Pesta Nukenen, witnessed by Uggah (behind him) and other dignitaries.

MIRI: The Sarawak government has approved an allocation of RM1.5 billion to develop highlands in the northern part of the state, including Bario, with improved road infrastructure.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Highland Development Agency (HDA) has to spend the allocation within the next two years for that purpose.

“It has to be spent over two years to develop our infrastructure in the highlands, including Bario. This means that now is the tendering process, after it was conceptualised last year. I was given a list by HDA chairman (who is also the Deputy Chief Minister) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas earlier, some of which were tendered in August, some in September and some were tendered in December last year

“Provisions are in place, we just need to develop the infrastructures,” he said when opening the Bario food and cultural festival or the 14th Pesta Nukenen in Bario recently.

The infrastructure development is part of the long-term and strategic plan by HDA for five years from 2020 to 2025, he disclosed.

At the event, Abang Johari also announced the approval of road upgrading project from Longa to Bario.

“The approval to upgrade this road, including its annual maintenance cost of RM3 million, is to ensure it remains in good condition,” he explained.

In the five-year plan, in addition to upgrading and building roads, Abang Johari wanted HDA to address telecommunications needs in the highlands, including access and speed of the Internet.

Abang Johari also said the Sarawak government was considering whether to build a new airport or purchase a 20-seater airbus helicopter, or both, to address the transportation needs in the highlands, if the state government had sufficient funds for this.

This was because the existing Bario airport could not meet the needs of the larger aircraft unless it was extended, meaning it would share the airspace with the neighbouring country Indonesia for departure and landing, he added.

Abang Johari hoped to see the Pesta Nukenen included in the state’s tourism calendar to attract visitors.

He also hoped to see Bario becoming a floral hub through the cultivation of tulips, roses and so forth to meet domestic demand.

Meanwhile, on the post of a Temenggong for the Kelabits, Abang Johari said he would refer the matter to the State Secretary.

At the event, Abang Johari announced an allocation of RM50,000 to Rurum Kelabit Sarawak (RKS) for organising the festival.

Other dignitaries attending the event were Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Mulu assemblyman Dato Gerawat Gala, acting State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion and RKS president Dr Philip Raja.