Too long wait for Labuan bridge: PKR
Published on: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Labuan: PKR here says it is "unacceptable" for a short Labuan-Menumbok bridge to take four years to become a reality. Its Chief Simsudin Sidek said the targeted year of completion of the proposed bridge was set in 2023 by which time the 15th general election will be held.

"This suggests that if the Barisan Nasional (BN) fails to retain the Labuan parliamentary seat in the coming 14th general election, there could be no bridge for Labuan as well.

"This is a sort of political bargain to get support from Labuan voters," he added.

He said the bridge is merely 13km on Labuan side and 3.5km on Sabah side, based on an estimate made by former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh when he (Harris) made the offer in 2014 to build the connection.

"It is not a really long bridge. With the use of modern technology, China could complete such bridges twice of more the length in less than two years. Even the second bridge of 23.5km in Penang and costing RM4.6 billion had not taken very long to complete," said Simsudin.

He was commenting on the Federal Territories (FT) Ministry's reply to a question from Labuan Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli in the recent Parliament session.

Rozman had asked when the proposed Labuan-Menumbok link would be completed and the answer given by Deputy FT Minister Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan was that it is scheduled for completion in 2023 after the RM14.3 million techno-economic feasibility study is completed by December this year.

Following this, the appointed consultant would prepare the necessary papers for the project within three months, that is March 2019.

Simsudin said the planning was "convincing but there is no strong reason to believe that the bridge would take shape", considering that the bridge proposal has emerged in the Labuan Development Plan since 1997.

He added that there had been more than one occasion when the bridge project appeared to be real but ended in naught.

At one time, RM5 million was allocated for a feasibility study on the bridge led by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), which indicated that the project could be carried out.

"When all was done, now they say the study could not be used as it was incomplete.

The question is that why did they spend RM5 million on a feasibility study that served no purpose?" asked Simsudin.

Later statements about the bridge include that the Government wants the bridge to be under private finance initiative.

When Harris submitted an offer to build the bridge under a joint venture with a China company with no cash payments from the Government but land swap in 2014, the Economic Planning Unit hardly showed interest in the offer.

"Over the years, we saw at least two occasions when it appeared that the bridge will become a reality but failed.

It now certainly makes many wonder whether this new study and new talk about the bridge will really see some light at the end of the tunnel," said Simsudin.

He also said Rozman had done well by raising the matter in Parliament because the connection would be a game-changer for Labuan as many feel that without the bridge it may be "game over" for Labuan. - Sohan Das


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