Is RM24 billion really a whopping bill to pay for the roadless Sarawak?

From this year until 2030 Sarawak is going to spend RM24 billion on building roads in the state. No one would argue that this is not a whopping bill to pay if we do it in one settlement.

The RM24 billion is more than the state’s allocation of RM20 billion for the 11th Malaysia Plan, and it is certainly much more than the RM18.5 billion for the 10th Malaysia Plan, and the RM13.5 billion for the 9th Malaysia Plan.

The RM 24 billion is 3 times bigger than the state’s 2016 budget of RM8.01 billion. However, is it really a whopping amount for road building in the state.

Road transportation and communication are cheaper than any other forms of transporation and communication systems.

Roads can help to reduce poverty among the people as they spend less on transportation.  Accessibility and availability of roads will save Sarawakians, particularly the rural folks, a lot of money.

A large part of Sarawak is still not accessible by roads, and this is not something that the people can tolerate any further considering that the state is richly endowed by natural resources such as oil, gas, timber, and hydro-electric potential.

If we take it as it is,  RM24 billion does constitute a big amount indeed. But is it really that big when we consider that Sarawak is in dire need for equality in all aspects of development and progress.

After 53 years, Sarawakians are now not only demanding that roads be built in their state, but they are also demanding that top quality and world class roads be built.

It is no longer enough just to give them dirt roads. They want highways and tar-sealed roads.

Is the RM24 billion enough to meet the aspiration, the hope, and the expectation of the people of Sarawak? Is it enough to build all the roads that have been planned in the state or that have been requested by the people?

As the money is disbursed in 15 years, the amount for road construction in Sarawak is basically only about RM1.6 billion per year. This is not exactly what we can consider to be a whopping bill to pay.

What types of road can be built using RM1.6 billion per year? How many kilometers of roads will be constructed? Will it be used for highways? Or, will it be used for building dirt roads? Or, will it simply be utilised to upgrade timber roads?

Will the money be used for other purposes?

Planning can be affected by many things such as economic downturn, financial crisis, changes in the country’s or state’s leadership and so on. All of this can influence how the government determines its priority. Changes in the government’s priority mean changes in the way the nation allocates its resources.

How can the state guarantee that it will get the RM24 billion that it has been promised? If not, will Sarawak have to wait another 53 years for quality road and transporation system in the state?

Sarawakians have seen the types of development that have taken place in the other states, and they want similar things to happen in their state. The RM24 billion constitutes a good start, but much more is needed to rectify the inequality of the last 53 years. – Sarawakvoice