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Air Connectivity For Bukit Sadok

Date : 03 April 2017     Source : Borneo Post Online

Abang Johari (fourth right) receiving a souvenir from Uggah (fifth right) at Rumah Francis Nyanggau in Penom, Betong while other VIPs witness. — Penerangan photo

State government mulls building airstrip to transport agricultural produce from agropolitan centre for export

SPAOH: Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Area needs an airstrip with dedicated airfreight services for it to succeed as an export-oriented rural economy growth centre.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg made this observation while speaking at the soft launch of the Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Area at a ‘leader-meets-the people’ session in Rumah Francis Nyanggau, Penom near here yesterday.

Abang Johari said Sarawak’s domestic market with a population of barely 2.8 million people is too small for the potential volume of produce from the Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Area with an estimated 300,000 hectares of agricultural land.

“We need an airstrip to connect (Bukit Sadok Agropolitan) to a bigger airport. Lorry to Sibu by land will be more than two hours, flight to China will be more than six hours; by the time fruits reach China, the fruits will not be fit for consumption anymore.

“We cannot plant fruits like bananas for local consumption only. Nobody eats bananas every day. The same for durian; even if you can take durian daily, your body will be gassed up (bloated with gas),” he joked.

Abang Johari admitted that building an airstrip will be a costly affair but the government is willing to spend big money for the success of the project.

“We must use small freighters that can connect this area to an airport for export purposes. Building an airstrip is expensive but we must spend for rural economic transformation. Our ICT must be reliable and our logistics must be good,” he emphasised.

Abang Johari said that the state government has to do away with the old school method of subsidies in helping the rural community by switching to venture capital.

“In the United States, they use venture capital for high tech industries; here in Sarawak we will introduce venture capital for agrotech, for agriculture-based industries in the rural areas,” he said.

This, he said, will produce more capable rural entrepreneurs with well-managed companies that would have access to global markets. “That will give high incomes to people in rural areas. We will implement this and I have requested my officers to set aside RM100 million under the mid-term review for this equity fund,” he announced.

“I will give an allocation of RM100 million to be disbursed equity via venture capital to rural-based agro industries. This is our new approach. That will include the airstrip. This is not April Fool’s,” he added.

“There is a small plane that can be used to run freighter services because it has a very efficient engine. We can connect to the nearest airport and bigger planes will send these agricultural products to China, India, Korea, Japan, etc.” Abang Johari also announced a long list of projects within Bukit Sadok Agropolitan Area totalling RM149.5 million.

They are Sekatap-Meribung-Nanga Jelau-Jelau Atas-Batu Lintang road (RM12 million), Ijok-Tekuyu-Lempaong-Batu Pesok-Rantau Layang-Perdu road (RM69 million), Sungai Sibau-Ulu Padeh-Ulu Skrang-Nanga Nguman-Perdu road (RM14.5 million), Ulu Paku-Ulu Gerenjang-Ulu Krian-Ulu Kota road until Pakan (RM20 million), Penom-Danau-Ulu Bayor road (RM15 million), Rumah Seman, Penebak Ulu – Rumah Sang, Rantau Chire, Ulu Entabai (RM5 million), Spaoh sub-district office (RM5 million), Tanjung Sebukun, Spaoh bridge (RM3 million), Nanga Buai (RM450,000), Pergan football field (RM500,000) and Betong Market (RM5 million).

When commenting on native customary rights (NCR) issues, Abang Johari urged the relevant agency to quickly issue land titles to rural communities.

“We must issue the land title faster. If the lands are without titles, how are we going to develop them for commercial and business purposes? Those given clearance by Douglas’ task force, go ahead. Develop the land; we will be having funds from equity capital and venture capital,” he said referring to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, who is also Betong MP.

Also present at the function were Deputy State Secretary Datu Ismawi Ismuni, Abang Johari’s wife Datin Amar Dato‘ Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Minister for Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Lubok Antu MP Datuk William Nyalau Badak and Saratok MP Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom who is also Pakan assemblyman.

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