SIBU – More research is needed on peat soil in the country as its condition poses a major challenge for infrastructural projects.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the focus should hence be on developing better construction technology and materials for such a soil condition which could significantly reduce the cost of constructing roads, buildings, amenities and other facilities and their maintenance later.
Speaking to the media after launching the University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS)’s Peat Technology Research Institute (PETRI), here, he said developing infrastructural projects on peat soil was still a major challenge to the Public Works Department.
“We have some 2.6 million hectares of peat soil in the whole country of which about 80 per cent is in Sarawak, 13 per cent in the peninsula and about five per cent in Sabah.
“Obviously, the bigger challenge is in Sarawak. We cannot avoid but implement many infrastructure, public utility, drainage and other projects on such a very difficult soil condition at very high costs.
“My ministry, for instance, has spent RM25 million in the past two years just to continuously upgrade the 24km Sibu town-Sibu Airport road because of the problem,” he said.
Fadillah said with Sarawak developing its Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and upgrading the Pan Borneo Highway, the need to come up with better construction technology and new building materials was all the more necessary.
On PETRI, he said its setting up was timely because Sibu, located in the state’s central region, had about 550,000 square kilometres of peat soil areas.
It could then draw on the experience and expertise of the local contractors, he said.
“My ministry, the relevant government agencies, construction bodies and research institutes in the country could collaborate to look into and tackle the construction issues related to peat soil.
“We can gather ideas from both local and foreign experts to help us applyÂ their knowledge and experience.
“We have to use science and technology in order to move forward and to improve on the government delivery system for the benefit of the people,” he said.
Fadillah later opened a one-day peat soil seminar attended by some 70 participants where three main working and 10 technical papers were presented. – BERNAMA