PETALING JAYA: The works ministry today hit back at former prime minister Najib Razak for claiming that the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah has been abandoned, stating it is 22% complete.
While campaigning for the Barisan Nasional-Umno candidate in the Kimanis parliamentary by-election in Membakut, Sabah, last week, Najib said he saw that “the Pan Borneo project involving the Kota Kinabalu-Kimanis stretch has been abandoned”.
He also said the toll-free highway was “a gift” from the previous BN government to Sabahans.
The ministry dismissed both claims, saying the highway was still under construction even though the government had cancelled the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) arrangement on Sept 21 last year.
“Right now, the project is in the hands of the Public Works Department (JKR), which has helped the government save around RM1.2 billion.
“Up until Dec 31, 2019, the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah is 22% complete and is expected to be fully completed in June 2023,” it said in a statement.
Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal yesterday said the state and federal governments did away with the PDP to reduce the mega project’s cost and to facilitate more transparency after claims it was helmed by a consultancy firm run by a political party member.
The ministry said the savings from the shift to JKR had allowed the government to approve three additional packages – involving passages from exits in Beluran and Telupid totalling RM1 billion to be tendered in March – on top of the 12 existing packages.
The three additional packages are expected to be completed at the end of 2023, it said.
The ministry said the implementation of the 12 contracts was behind schedule, when compared with the original completion date of June 2022, because of land acquisition issues, obstacles at the construction site and transition issues resulting from the shift from PDP to the conventional contract.
It said that apart from the government’s commitment to continue with the 15 Pan Borneo Highway projects in Sabah, it had approved a project to build the TransBorneo Highway to link Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimanatan.
The first phase linking Kalabakan in Sabah to Simanggaris in Indonesia, costing RM600 million, was announced when Budget 2020 was tabled in October.
“Like the Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak, the cost of implementing the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah as well as other projects in the two states is fully borne by the federal government,” the ministry said.
“This includes the TransBorneo Highway and also the Sarawak Sabah Link Road that was approved by the government, where the users will have to pay no tolls.
“The construction of main roads in these two states without any tolls shows the government’s commitment and determination to ensure that Sabah and Sarawak citizens can enjoy better socioeconomic development.”