KUCHING – Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is optimistic the proposed light rail transit (LRT) project could be implemented as early as 2019 after feasibility studies are completed.
He said under the state Budget 2018, which he tabled on Wednesday, there’s an allocation to carry out the studies on the implementation of the LRT project which are expected to take a year to complete.
“We can start the LRT project after the feasibility studies are done. We can start the project by 2019,” he told members of the media on the sidelines of the DUN sitting here yesterday.
He said among others, the feasibility studies would include the routes which it would take, soil conditions and the power it would be using.
The LRT project is the brainchild of Abang Johari who has vowed that the project will take off by 2020.
As soon as he announced the project in Serian during Pesta Birumuh early this year, the opposition has jumped into conclusion that it was not feasible to implement, describing it as mere ‘hot air’ from the chief minister.
But Abang Johari has been very persistent to implement it as it would ease traffic congestion in Kuching besides linking the city with its suburbs including Kota Samarahan and Serian.
In a message during his 100th day in office on April 22, Abang Johari said he was keen to implement the LRT which would be done by Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
Abang Johari, who is also Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, was confident that the proposed LRT which would run on electric powered-locomotives, would initially link Kuching-Kota Samarahan-Serian.
“If the Brookes could implement our first train service from Kuching to Mile 10 before, we should be able to implement something better than that now. We are moving towards modernisation and we must ensure that our people have a better quality of life with shorter travel time from their homes to their respective work places.”
The chief minister said he preferred the LRT to be powered by electric trains since the state has huge amount of electricity generated by three hydroelectric power (HEP) plants at Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum. The fourth one (Baleh HEP) is expected to generate some 1,400 MW of energy when it is completed in 2025. – The Borneo Post