KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has questioned the rationale behind the state government’s plan to build a railway project connecting Kudat and Kota Kinabalu as there is no need for it at the moment.
PBS supreme council member Arthur Sen said the project should not be given priority although it may benefit the people.
“It’s the roads such as those in the rural areas that need urgent upgrading,” he said.
In Ranau, he said, several roads are in dire need of repair.
“These are only in Ranau. Other districts have their own problems. Many roads are impassable, especially during the rainy season. As a result, produce from the villages cannot be brought out to be sold,” he said.
Sen said some villages do not have roads and the residents have no other choice but to walk, sometimes for hours.
He recounted an incident where a deceased person had to be carried by the villagers on foot to be buried.
“The RM5.2 billion (earmarked for the rail project) should be spent on repairing and building roads.
“Don’t think only about economic benefits as roads are for the good of the public.
“Kudat already has a good paved road system connecting it with Kota Kinabalu. In the future, this road will also be included in the Pan Borneo Highway,” he said.
Sen said the number of rail passengers is not expected to be high at the moment.
“In terms of cargo, the road network is more than adequate to cater to the needs. Once the Pan Borneo Highway is completed, it can transport even more cargo.
“I urge the government to prioritise the upgrading and construction of rural roads. Once this is done, then the government can consider building the rail link,” he said.
Sen also questioned the need to spend large sums of money to expand and upgrade the Kudat port when Sabah already has a big port with good connectivity in Kota Kinabalu.
On Tuesday, Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony said the state government is working on the terms for the 175km line from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat, as well as a preliminary survey of the route and preparation of tender documents.
He said the people living within the area of service have been “craving” for a rail link because they do not have a good road network.
Anthony said the project is in line with the state government’s plan to build a new port in Limau-Limauan, Kudat, and the train can be used to transport not only passengers but also cargo from the port to Kudat and Kota Kinabalu.