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Shafie explains controversial project
Published on: Sunday, October 19, 2014
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KOTA KINABALU: The RM27 billion Pan Borneo Highway project is not a privatised project but comes under the Private Funding Initiative (PFI) where the company awarded the project will have to raise the necessary funds to construct the road first."I was made to understand that it is a PFI, though at the end of the day the Government will pay back the company," said Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

The only difference compared to the PFI road projects in Semenanjung, he said, was that there would be no toll in Sabah.

Met after launching the State-level Rural Entrepreneurs Mini Carnival at Lintasan Deasoka, Saturday, Shafie believed construction of the highway would spur the economies of the people living near the road and also promote integration between Sabah and Sarawak.

To a question, Shafie said he was unsure which company had been awarded the project since it is under the Federal Ministry of Finance. Nonetheless, he said, the company awarded the project needs to have the money first.

As for his Ministry, he said all of its projects in Sabah were given to local companies. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had said that the matter had been discussed a while back at a State Cabinet meeting, whereby concerns were raised on whether local contractors would benefit.

"I have discussed these concerns with the Prime Minister and he has agreed to review the matter," Musa had said.

Kalabakan MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh in debating the National 2015 Budget in Parliament urged the Government to give development projects to locals instead of wealthy companies from the peninsula.

It was reported that UEM Group Bhd would be partnering MMC Corp Bhd, in particular for the Sabah portion of the road. It was also learnt that Sarawak would only allow its contractors to handle Sarawak's portion of the highway.

Opposition DAP Sabah concurred with Ghapur on the awarding of the project and called on the Prime Minister to put a stop to the signing of the contract.

Fellow opposition Sabah Star head Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan also said the Sabah government should insist that the Sabah section of the highway be built without any Malayan companies as the main contractor to avoid skimming of the contract sum and ending up with lower quality roads.

"It should learn from the Sarawak road quality experience," he said. "No Malayan Umno companies or cronies are involved in the Sarawak section, he said:

"If one were to take a leisurely drive in Lawas, Sarawak, some 850km from Kuching, one would notice that the roads in Lawas are wider by two feet and of better quality than those in Sabah.

"Not only are Sabah roads narrower, they are full of potholes even in Kota Kinabalu."

He said the roads in Sabah were of poor quality due to the practice of sub-contract over sub-contract of the project, which resulted in many being forced to cut corners due to low prices.

"In Sarawak, they do not allow Umno-linked companies to be involved and due to the non-skimming at the top, there are better prices for Sarawak contractors," he said.

"It was not surprising and wise of the Sarawak government to name Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn. Bhd to undertake the Sarawak portion of the Pan Borneo Highway and to reject any involvement by the Malayan Umno-linked companies," he said.

"Regardless whether they are from Umno or not, the Sabah government should adopt a similar stand to reject any Malayan company involvement in the Sabah Pan-Borneo Highway, to ensure Sabah contractors benefit from the construction and to prevent skimming of the contract sums.

"At the same time, perhaps, better quality roads will be built in Sabah. Better profits for Sabah contractors will also be a boost to the Sabah economy," he said.



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