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Tg Aru project to proceed
Published on: Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Barring any hiccups, the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project which will transform Tanjung Aru into one of the region's best tourism spots will proceed as planned following the provision of a RM500 million facilitation fund by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister's Department.

Disclosing this to the media at a breaking-of-fast event, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of the EPU, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (pic), said the project would be a huge game-changer for Sabah, particularly the State Capital, and that he is excited to be part of it.

"It (fund) was a big and major step to ensure that the project will proceed as planned.

So I can assure you that the TAED will go on. The CM (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) together with Upen (Sabah Economic Planning Unit) presented their case at the Economic Council meeting and we approved it," he said.

Rahman also said that Sabahans are fortunate to have a Prime Minister who is concerned about Sabah.

"The PM has been telling me 'Rahman, you need to look into some of the game-changer projects for Sabah.

"Hence, I can assure you that the interests of Sabah will be taken care of, especially some of the mega projects we are looking at."

Rahman credited Datuk Seri Najib Razak for having done more for Sabah during his tenure than all the previous prime ministers combined.

"I can tell you that he has also spent more on Sabah than any other state in the federation," he said, adding it was partly due to the realisation that Sabah is a very unique State in the Federation with its own peculiarities that needed to be addressed.

He cited the ongoing Pan-Borneo Highway which was originally estimated to cost RM12-13 billion but may go higher with new adjustments and alignments.

"In that sense, the PM has Sabah very close to his heart."

Saying it is going to be "a very exciting time for Sabah" now that he is the Minister for EPU, Rahman said he would do his best to help the State but without compromising the other parts of Malaysia.

"As far as I am concerned, there is a lot to be done for Sabah. Even within Kota Kinabalu public transportation is extremely challenged and it may take a person two hours to reach the city from the north, including changing a few buses."

In this regard, Rahman said he is looking at the Kota Kinabalu transportation master plan which might include a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit system which entails having a dedicated lane solely for buses).

He said, personally, he would prefer having a LRT (Light Rail Transit) but this would involve a little more study because to make it viable would require hundreds of thousands of people using it daily.

Hence, he said, the need for a LRT is not factored on lack of will but on population size.

"The BRT is on the table at the moment and I am working hard on that one."

He said it is the same with the proposal for a rail network connecting all major towns with KK.

There is no reason not to if it can be justified in terms of moving people and cargo.

Rahman said he brought the entire top EPU team to Sabah last year to have a first hand look at the situation in the city, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and Kudat, as a result of which we are now seeing improvement on the Yayasan Sabah-Indah Permai stretch and the flyovers.

He said the State Government has also requested to extend the dual carriageway from Yayasan Sabah to the upcoming Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) along Tg Lipat into three lanes which is faced with congestion daily. "I am also looking into that."

"Certainly Sabah is the next frontier State for economic development in Malaysia. We still have land, the potential to go forward and a lot to be uncovered in Sabah economically-speaking.

"I'm here to help the State Government and the people of Sabah and I really hope that in the years ahead, we will be the region yang kedepan dibidang ekonomi (ahead economically in the region).

He said, no doubt there are still issues regarding the high cost of living which is hoped would be alleviated by the recent exemption of the Cabotage shipping policy and are being tackled one by one through improved port efficiency, among others.

He said all this is possible because the EPU has a huge budget of about RM46 billion yearly.

Even then, 2017 was not really his budget as it was decided before he agreed to move from the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government portfolio. - James Sarda

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