‘Still on the job’ says Borneo highway builder

The Pan Borneo Highway is set to connect Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. (Bernama pic).

KOTA KINABALU: The builder of the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah has dismissed news reports of a government takeover of the project, saying work was still proceeding.

Muhammad Fadzil Abdul Hamid, acting chief executive of Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd said they are not aware any decision to change the ‘project delivery partner’ (PDP) contract model to that of a turnkey project.

He said work was proceeding in accordance with the Project Delivery Partnership agreement signed in April 2016.

The Edge Financial Daily had reported that the works ministry would take over the project, with turnkey contractors to replace the PDP for the remaining work. Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal has also confirmed that the PDP model will be dropped, adding the state government had discussed the matter with Putrajaya.

However, Tian Chua, special adviser to Works Minister Baru Bian, has clarified the two PDPs for the RM29 billion Pan Borneo Highway had not been removed. He said the government was reviewing the entire Pan Borneo Highway project, including the two PDPs, adding nothing had been finalised.

Muhammad Fadzil said “speculations in the media has caused jitters and unnecessary anxiety among staff, consultants, work package contractors, supply chains, financial institutions and local construction industries.

“To date, 12 of the 35 packages have been awarded and BHP has employed over 250 personnel, about 90% of whom are local Sabahan technical professionals.

“The project has also provided some 3,000 employment opportunities among consultants, contractors, vendors and suppliers involved in the project,” he said in a statement here today.

The Edge reported said the planned change to a turnkey basis arose from cost overruns and was in line with the federal government’s aim to stop awarding projects through the PDP model which is held to be less cost-efficient.

Fadzil said that the project delivery partner is responsible for delivering the project within the agreed target cost and time frame. Failure to comply would result in penalties via deduction of fees.

He said there was a misconception among the public that the PDP did not have to bear the full brunt of cost overruns and delays.

Fadzil said the project was overseen by various committees chaired by federal and state government officials, who would decide on such matters as contract awards, cost controls, procurement, engineering design, contract management and construction works.

Members of these committees comprised relevant government stakeholders such as the Sabah state secretary, works ministry, state and federal ministries, state public works department and as well as independent consulting engineers.

There were sufficient policies, procedures and processes put in place to ensure competency, transparency and accountability in the implementation of the project, Fadzil said.