BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE WILL BOOST SABAH FARMERS’ LIVES
It is the common link between the success stories and those who are still struggling
DURING my visits to districts in Sabah, I came across many success stories of farmers and breeders who had made it good after years of hard work.
I have reports of those who made good use of assistance they received from the many programmes and schemes provided by the state and federal governments.
Smallholders, vegetable and padi farmers, as well as cattle, poultry and fish breeders, could recount stories of their humble beginnings at the dry and wet markets before making it big enough to export their produce and goods abroad.
These are stories that motivate me to secure more plans that can benefit Sabah folk.
But I am also mindful of challenges facing many who are hindered from reaching their fullest potential.
On top of all the positive reports, I also listened to grouses from villagers, who were not able to bring out their produce easily, and the challenges they faced in expanding their ventures.
The common link between the success stories and those who still struggle lies in the infrastructure.
There are plans in place but they take time to be implemented. Yes, Sabah is a vast state, but that will not be an excuse for me not to strive harder for the people.
This is why I am pushing hard for more funds to build better road links, and the Pan Borneo Highway is a testament to this.
Recently, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan announced a railway network project to connect Kota Kinabalu to Kudat up north and Sandakan in the east.
Pairin, who is our deputy chief minister and infrastructure development minister, revealed a feasibility study would be conducted to expand the railway line.
The Sabah State Railway Department had reported a marked improvement in its service last year, reducing complaints and putting in 6,170 train trips, carrying 494,638 passengers.
Our railway service has long provided a lifeline for many people commuting on its existing 134km line between Kota Kinabalu and Tenom via Papar and Beaufort.
But it also helped those in the agriculture and tourism industry, moving produce and tourists all these years.
With a new network, I am sure it will open up more of the state to new opportunities.
As far as roads are concerned, the Pan Borneo Highway is what we are looking forward to. It will give us a greater link with our neighbours Sarawak and Brunei, and, who knows, maybe North Kalimantan.
I have heard of whispers from detractors and sceptics, who have been spreading lies about the project such as it will not be able to commence.
MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017
However, the commitment shown by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier this month guarantees otherwise.
He even gave his assurance that the toll-free road network would be on a par with those in developed nations and the Public Works Department would ensure this.
Najib was quoted as saying in his speech when launching the Sabah Pan Borneo project in Sindumin: “This is not a timber or kampung road. This is a worldclass highway. This is my commitment as prime minister.”
He is determined to ensure that the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sabah changes the landscape of development and communication network throughout the state.
“Sabah will get a complete tollfree highway network at an overall cost of more than RM16 billion in five years. This is the contribution of the Federal Government.
“I want to say this is not over yet. If the financial situation permits, we will give more allocations for highway development in Sabah. We want Sabah to change because the state has a high potential.”
This long-term project will create 400,000 jobs for the people in Sabah and Sarawak, and provide opportunities for local contractors to excel.
Once completed, the link will open up many opportunities for the people who live along the stretch.
We also have our own leader from Sabah, Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, monitoring the project.
In the latest event, Najib launched the groundbreaking of a project to upgrade the 28.4km Sindumin-Kampung Melalia Road in Sipitang at a cost of RM600 million.
Years from now, we will be able to sample more of those unique
durians that can only be found deep in rural areas, allow our fresh prawn sellers to reach out to a wider market instead of depending on middlemen, and rubber tappers need not carry their latex far to those who collect and buy it.
Our children will benefit from this, and this is where we must play our role to ensure these projects are implemented and completed.
A section of the road in Putatan, Sabah, which will be linked to the Pan Borneo Highway. Once completed, the highway will enable Sabah to have a greater link with its neighbours Sarawak and Brunei.