Baru to tell ‘actual cost’ of Sarawak highway project

Works Minister Baru Bian says Feb 20 will be ‘a historic day’ when the federal government takes over Sarawak’s portion of the Pan Borneo Highway.

BANGI: Works Minister Baru Bian is to reveal the cost of Sarawak’s portion of the Pan Borneo Highway once the project is handed over to the ministry on Feb 20, in the face of questions being asked about whether the federal government will actually save RM3.1 billion by terminating the services of the Project Delivery Partner (PDP).

On Friday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said that Putrajaya would reduce the cost of Sarawak’s portion from RM21.9 billion to RM18.8 billion by cancelling the contract of Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU).

The figure, however, was disputed by Baru’s predecessor, Fadillah Yusof, and Sarawak tourism minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Baru said today: “We will announce the actual cost after the ministry takes ownership of the project on Feb 20. I will announce it myself and give you the accurate information. It will be a historic day.”

Following the Cabinet decision to terminate the PDP on Sept 4, the Public Works Department (JKR) will coordinate the management of the remainder of the project, saving the government a 5.5% commission it would have to pay LBU.

A total of 11 packages on the Sarawak side of the highway, stretching 786.4km, will now be overseen without a PDP.

Fadillah had said Lim’s statement that the government will save RM3.1 billion is “misleading and deceitful”, adding that the original target cost for the project was capped at RM16.48 billion and not RM21.9 billion.

Karim, meanwhile, asked Baru if he was “brave enough” to inform the Sarawak public the actual cost of its portion of the highway. “Is it RM16b or RM18.8b or RM21.9b?” the PBB vice- president asked in a video posting on his Facebook account.