22 June 2007

'We do not need federal PWD'


KUCHING: The works minister’s proposal to set up offices in Sabah and Sarawak to monitor federal projects met with a thumbs-down in Sarawak.

During question time in Dewan Rakyat on Monday, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was answering a supplementary question from Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan) and said: "We asked them (the state public works departments) to carry out the projects but it appears they have trouble implementing them.

"We’re planning to set up offices in the two states so projects can be implemented smoothly."

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said the Sarawak Public Works Department was competent to oversee any federal projects "if it is asked to".

"But the state PWD has not been involved in the planning of any federal PWD projects in the state, nor has it been asked to implement and monitor them," said Jabu, who is also the state Infrastructure Development Minister. His ministry oversees the department.
Jabu said the state PWD should not be blamed for the federal PWD’s failure and opening offices would be a waste of public funds and create duplication of work.

He said the failure of major federal projects like the Durin Bridge over Sungai Rajang, the Batang Kayan Bridge in Lundu, and the Lutong-Kuala Baram road to the Sarawak-Brunei border crossing should not be blamed on the state PWD.

"If we had been involved, we would have done a better job. If the Durin Bridge project had been given to the state PWD, it would have been completed in four years, instead of nine.

"And the Batang Kayan bridge would have been completed in three years, not seven," he said.

He was at the handing-over ceremony of keys to the new RM51 million Betong division administrative building to the government.

Jabu also described how the state PWD was snubbed when it advised the federal PWD to move the Lutong-Kuala Ba-ram road 800m inland.

"The federal PWD said it was their project so they make the decisions.

"They built the road but before completion, the road was washed away by monsoon waves. I wonder how much this cost the federal government?"

Jabu said if the federal PWD continued to shut out the state works department, it would have serious repercussions for federal projects here.

"I fear that the road to 2020 may be very tough, very challenging for Sarawak and may not be fulfilled.

"They want to merge the Sabah and Sarawak PWDs under the works ministry. But we told them they cannot because of our constitution."

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