By John Isaac
THE state government has decided that all 11 major bridges in the state will be toll free once they are open to the public.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was in line with the wishes of Tok Nan (his predecessor, the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem).
“There will be no toll and no more ferries. But in Semenanjung Malaysia, all bridges have toll. So, this is what the GPS has fulfilled,” he told a press conference after the Batang Lupar Bridge earth-breaking ceremony as reported by New Sarawak Tribune.
On the funds for building all the bridges between Kuching and Miri, he pointed out they were borne by the state government except for Batang Sadong and Samarahan which were borne by the federal government during the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“This is because of the commitment made by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS). As you know, one senior minister said that Sarawak will go bankrupt in three years because of what we are doing, spending our money (on developments). Of course, he doesn’t know what I am going to do.
“Look at our Malaysia Agreement (MA63) … we have certain rights to our oil and gas. And we pursued the case (oil and gas rights) in court, and the court sided with us,” he said.
Abang Johari said the additional revenue from the State Sales Tax (SST) will be used over time to develop Sarawak.
“At the same time, I have indicated that I want to set up a sovereign fund for the future,” he said.
Earlier, in his speech, Abang Johari said that although Pakatan Harapan (PH) cancelled the Batang Lupar project which was approved under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the state was able to take over it.
“The costs of the bridge and other bridges are huge. But I believe when our intention is good, we can overcome all the challenges.
“And thank God, He has guided me. I am able to look for more money and GPS will continue to develop the rural areas because they must be taken care of,” he said.
Abang Johari stressed that what was important was there must be good policies, political stability, peace and harmony for the state to develop.
“All the major bridges in Sarawak will be completed the latest by 2025 or 2026. The overall landscape of Sarawak will change, new areas will be opened up and the socio-economy of the people will improve.
“With better connectivity and training centres, the younger generation can develop the areas by using modern technology,” he said, adding that the state was improving internet lines in the rural areas.
He said all had been planned for the future, and thankfully there was political stability, and there was understanding among the people to drive Sarawak to become the most developed state in Malaysia by 2030.
Among the eleven bridges funded by the state government are the Batang Lupar Bridge 1 and Batang Lupar Bridge 2, Batang Rambungan Bridge, Sejingkat Bridge, Batang Saribas, Sungai Krian Bridge, Batang Rajang Bridge, Batang Paloh Bridge, Muara Lassa Bridge, Batang Igan Bridge, and the Bintulu-Jepak Bridge.