Labuan bridge proposal remains a beacon of hope, says Dr Zaliha

LABUAN, Jan 14 — Labuan and Sabah residents can continue to hold onto hope for the realisation of the long-anticipated bridge connecting the island to the mainland, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Federal Territories) Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She expressed her belief that the construction of the bridge could be a ‘game changer’ for the island and would usher in positive economic impacts.

However, she stressed the need for a comprehensive technical study to assess the estimated costs of the project.

Addressing community leaders at an engagement session held at the Labuan International School (LIS) auditorium, Dr Zaliha said, “My personal view on this proposed bridge is that it could be a game changer, with a trickledown effect on Labuan’s economy.”

During a subsequent press conference, Dr Zaliha highlighted the importance of conducting a new feasibility study, given the evolving economic landscape.

She emphasised the past studies by local universities might not be entirely relevant to the current economic situation.

“Therefore, we may need a new technical study to obtain the estimated cost and assess economic impacts on Labuan.

“I am filled with optimism after hearing perspectives from individuals at various levels, including the business community, community leaders, and government servants, regarding the necessity of the bridge.

“These insights need to be effectively communicated to the Prime Minister on the importance of the construction of the bridge,” she said.

Dr Zaliha further revealed the allocation of RM100 million for the upgrading of the road project from Menumbok to Beaufort is directly connected to the proposed Labuan bridge.

The Labuan-Menumbok project, proposed under the 1997 Labuan Master Plan, has been a prolonged endeavour, and a feasibility study was conducted in 2010 by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), highlighting the necessity of the Labuan-Menumbok Bridge link.

In 2018, the federal government granted approval for the techno-economic feasibility study on the proposed Labuan-Menumbok bridge, providing renewed hope for the people of this duty-free island.

The RM14.31 million study, aimed at determining technical feasibility and addressing financial and economic appraisals, signalled positive progress for the project.

However, in September 2018, former Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad announced the cancellation of the second feasibility study, approved at the cost of RM15 million by the previous government.

Nevertheless, the fate of the bridge itself remained intact.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during his visit to Labuan in December last year said the federal government would focus on resolving basic infrastructure issues involving the people instead of implementing major development projects which can be deferred.

He said the proposed construction of a RM6 billion bridge to link Labuan with mainland Sabah is not a priority for the government. — Bernama



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