SANDAKAN AIR­PORT TO BE UP­GRADED

This will al­low di­rect flights from China, S. Korea and Ja­pan, says PM

New Straits Times - - News -

AVILA GERAL­DINE SANDAKAN avila@nst.com.my

SANDAKAN Air­port is poised to be the sec­ond main gate­way for Sabah af­ter the Kota Kin­a­balu In­ter­na­tional Air­port once its run­way is ex­tended.

The run­way, which is 2,134m long, will be ex­tended to 2,500m to ac­com­mo­date big­ger air­craft.

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, who launched the project to ex­tend the run­way yes­ter­day, said the ini­tia­tive would al­low di­rect flights from China, South Korea and Ja­pan into the district.

This, he added, was proof that the Fed­eral Govern­ment would not hes­i­tate to ap­prove un­planned de­vel­op­ment projects to ben­e­fit the peo­ple.

“Sandakan needs fi­nan­cial in­jec­tion or as­sis­tance from the Fed­eral Govern­ment.

“The govern­ment can ac­com­mo­date projects not orig­i­nally in the de­vel­op­ment plan... such as the run­way ex­pan­sion... we heard the peo­ple’s re­quests.

“When I came to this district in March, I met lo­cal op­er­a­tors who said if the run­way was up­graded, big­ger air­planes on di­rect flights will bring more tourists, and this will boost ho­tels’ oc­cu­pancy and busi­nesses,” he said yes­ter­day.

Na­jib shared with his au­di­ence how the ex­pan­sion project took off.

“Once I heard that, I called Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and said we must im­ple­ment the project.

“I also told Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Ab­dul Rah­man Dahlan, who over­sees the Eco­nomic Plan­ning Unit, that I want this project ap­proved.”

Na­jib said the project would start next month.

The con­trac­tor had been ap­pointed and is­sued with the Let­ter of In­tent. It is the same con­trac­tor in­volved in the 2013 up­grad­ing of the air­port, where they com­pleted the project the fol­low­ing year.

Na­jib said with Sandakan’s eco­tourism and golf course, the up­graded air­port would take the district to greater heights.

It was his as­pi­ra­tion, Na­jib said, to see Sabah de­vel­op­ing on a par with the penin­sula, adding that the up­grade would have a huge eco­nomic im­pact.

Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Na­jib had re­mained com­mit­ted to the peo­ple of Sabah.

He said Na­jib had on Dec 16, 2012, vis­ited Sandakan and found that the air­port ter­mi­nal build­ing was in a di­lap­i­dated state.

“At that time, the prime min­is­ter gave his com­mit­ment and promised the peo­ple here that it would be done. The next year, the up­grad­ing work was car­ried out and com­pleted in 2014.

“This is an ex­am­ple of a leader who cares and lis­tens to the pulse of the peo­ple... who works all time for the peo­ple, not sea­son­ally,” added Musa.

Musa said the up­grad­ing of the air­port would make Sabah and, taken care by one of her sons, who earns RM500 a month.

Na­jib also chat­ted with Jumah’s grand­chil­dren, Baby Marziatul Natasha As­min, 9, and Abby As­marziatul Ameenata­sya par­tic­u­larly, Sandakan a more pop­u­lar travel des­ti­na­tion for for­eign tourists, hence turn­ing it into the state’s sec­ond busiest air­port.

Liow said the Fed­eral Govern­ment had al­lo­cated RM41 mil­lion for de­vel­op­ment of the air sec­tor in Sabah this year.

He said the amount was part of the RM79.2 mil­lion al­lo­cated for the trans­port sec­tor in the state this year un­der the 11th Malaysia Plan.

He said last year, RM13.1 mil­lion was spent for the de­vel­op­ment of trans­port-re­lated in­fra­struc­ture in Sabah, cov­er­ing var­i­ous sec­tors, of which RM1.4 mil­lion was spent on the air sec­tor. As­min, 6, who have both been di­ag­nosed with heart dis­ease.

The girls pre­sented sou­venirs to Na­jib and Musa.

The two lead­ers handed fi­nan­cial aid to both fam­i­lies.

PIC BY ED­MUND SAMUNTING

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak greet­ing Kam­pung Sim-Sim vil­lagers dur­ing the ‘Jom Bantu Rakyat Ziarah’ pro­gramme in Sandakan yes­ter­day.

PIC BY ED­MUND SAMUNTING

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak vis­it­ing Ban­run Mo­hamad in Kam­pung Sim-Sim, Sandakan, yes­ter­day. With them is Sabah Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Musa Aman (right).

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