By Mariah Doksil
Sabah's first road tunnel to open on Saturday
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's first 600-metre dual carriageway Sepanggar Tunnel, connecting the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) and Sepanggar Port as well as several surrounding areas, was launched yesterday, and will be open for use from Saturday.
The tunnel, which took four years and eight months to build, was a project by the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).
Costing RM82 million, the project, which includes the construction of a road to Kampung Lokub, was funded by the federal government through SEDIA, and construction was carried out by the Sabah Public Works Department (JKR) and contractor Pembinaan Azam Jaya Sdn Bhd.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the opening of the tunnel was another feather in the cap for the Sabah government, and proof that the government was committed to bringing about a comprehensive and balanced development agenda, including the enhancement of road linkages.
He said the road tunnel would spur the state's economy particularly in the manufacturing sector, logistic services and also supporting the import and export operations.
The Chief Minister said the government was always striving to implement a comprehensive and balanced development agenda, including in improving infrastructure development and connectivity in certain areas.
"The Sepanggar Road Tunnel will be connecting the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) and Sepanggar Container Port to make both KKIP and port more competitive.
"It will definitely cut short the travel distance of delivery to the port, and at the same time to speed up the container moving operations in line with the plan to expand the Sepanggar Port.
"This alternative route will also divert the massive traffic in the area and help the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to save their logistic costs, which will develop a more conducive economic environment," Musa said this in his speech for yesterday's launching of the road tunnel.
Musa's speech was read by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also the Infrastructure Development Minister.
He added the state government was always concerned about the rapid development in Sepanggar area, and was currently intensifying efforts by encouraging investment coming in due to its strategic location for heavy industry.
"I believe that this infrastructure will generate local socio economic development, especially with the opening of new area in KKIP and its surroundings.
"Sepanggar area is in the middle of a modernisation process, which definitely needs efficient infrastructure to cope with the increasing traffic. Under the Sabah Economic Development Investment Authority (SEDIA), there will be more road improvement programmes to be implemented to support the development of this area," Musa said.
The Chief Minister elaborated that the state and federal governments would continue to cooperate in upgrading and improving the infrastructure all over the state.
He also said the UMSSulaman route would be enlarged and funded by the federal government.
Meanwhile in a press conference, Pairin said the construction of the tunnel, although costly, would help the government save on annual road maintenance cost.
With the completion of the first tunnel road in the State, Pairin called on leaders in every district to come up with a proposal, if there is any need to build a road tunnel in their areas.
"We are looking forward for alternative construction, including building more tunnels if it is more economical for a long period of time," he said.
Also present at the launching yesterday were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid, Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh, Special Tasks Minister Datuk Seri Teo Chee Kang and former head of state Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah.
(From left), Wan Maridah Chomar, Ramlah Usin and Haslinda Othman at the 600-metre dual carriageway Sepanggar Tunnel which will be open for use from Saturday.