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Making Tanjung Manis easier to reach
Posted on : 14 Apr 2017  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Making Tanjung Manis easier to reach

April 14, 2017, Friday Peter Sibon,

Masing (second left) is accompanied by Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development Datuk Talib Zulpilip (third right), STIDC general manager Datu Sarudu Hoklai (second right) and Semop assemblyman Abdullah Saidol (right) during his visit to Tanjung Manis.

KUCHING: Tanjung Manis has a huge potential to be an important industrial hub but it needs to have an access road from Sarikei to shorten the journey for commodities to be transported there from the hinterlands such as Sarikei, Julau, Saratok and Betong, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

Apart from that, he said there was also an urgent need to deepen the Batang Rajang river mouth leading to Tanjung Manis Port.

“There is urgency for both of these two projects to be implemented soon in order to provide better accessibility for agricultural produce such as oil palm fruits from the hinterland to be transported to Tanjung Manis. On top of that, we need to deepen the Batang Rajang from its river mouth till Tanjung Manis Port so that bigger vessels can sail through,” Masing told The Borneo Post upon his return from Tanjung Manis yesterday.

He cautioned that if these two projects were not implemented soon, Tanjung Manis could become a ‘white elephant’ due to its rather poor accessibility.

Masing, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, pointed out that the existing road from Sibu to Tanjung Manis is a long loop from Sarikei to bring agricultural produce, especially crude palm oil (CPO) to Tanjung Manis for processing.

He believes that a shortcut road from Sarikei to Tanjung Manis will definitely shorten the journey to Tanjung Manis Port by at least one and a half hour.

“Currently, it would take more than two hours by road from Sarikei to Tanjung Manis via Sibu. But if we have an access road from Sarikei to Tanjung Manis, then the journey could be shortened to only half an hour. As the saying goes, ‘Time is of the essence’ in the modern and competitive economy,” he stressed.

The proposed shortcut road from Sarikei to Tanjung Manis would be part of the coastal highway that needs to be improved, requiring three more bridges to be constructed – across Batang Lupar, Batang Saribas and Batang Rajang. The total cost of the proposed three bridges and the shortcut road is estimated to be at least RM1 billion.

On the need to deepen the Batang Rajang from its river mouth to Tanjung Manis Port, Masing said this is because currently big ships cannot reach Tanjung Manis Port as the water level at the Rajang River mouth is too shallow.

“We need to dredge it to at least 10m deep from its current 6m. Actually we don’t have to dredge the whole stretch as there are pockets of deep water along the way,” he said, adding that it would cost at least RM320 million to carry out the dredging works.

Being one of the growth nodes under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Tanjung Manis is poised to grow into a new economic hub of the central region of Sarawak and will continue to flourish with the development of other industries such as the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) comprising the Central Oil Distribution Terminal (CODT); Integrated Palm Oil Project (IPOP); Light Industrial Park for Petrochemicals, Oleo-chemicals and Related Industries (LIPPOR); and Oil, Gas and Chemical (OGC) jetty.

Initially meant for the timber industry, Tanjung Manis has since evolved into a new township, complete with a hub for ship building, deep sea fishery port, palm oil cluster for central regions of the state, and the Tanjung Manis Timber Processing Zone, the largest and most advanced fully integrated timber complex in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Masing said he had proposed the second trunk road from Kuching to Sibu to the government and hoped that it could be implemented soon.

“I will source for the funds which give better deals,” he said optimistically.