KUCHING: Long-awaited upgrading work to solve traffic jams in Samarahan will start next year.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said construction would commence after a Samarahan Expressway traffic study is carried out by Public Works Department (JKR) Sarawak in January.
He explained the traffic study is needed to determine whether to convert all five of the expressway’s roundabouts into signalled interchanges with traffic lights, or to build a shallow underpass similar to the one at Datuk Temenggong Abang Kipali bin Abang Akip Interchange near Jalan Matang.
The five roundabouts are Setia Raja-Samarahan, Stutong-Samarahan (Giant), ILP/LKIM Interchange, Sarawak Heart Centre-Samarahan Interchange, and Unimas-Samarahan Interchange.
Also involved in this proposed upgrading is the 2km road from Stutong to the Setia Raja-Samarahan roundabout, where the road and bridge will be upgraded into a dual-carriageway with a total of four lanes.
The estimated cost of this upgrading is RM110 million and construction is expected to reach completion within one or two years, but the cost and duration of construction would be slightly higher if a shallow underpass is built, said Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation.
He said the government, especially his ministry, needs to act now to alleviate traffic gridlock in this area for the next five to 10 years.
The upgrading works will start immediately after the completion of the study. We cannot do a traffic study in these two months (November and December) for the simple reason � this is now the school holiday period and it does not reflect the actual movement along this area. The traffic study will be carried out in January for two to three months when the school session starts again.
This matter of traffic congestion at the Samarahan Expressway is brought up every DUN (State Legislative Assembly) sitting by GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) and the opposition. My ministry and I are very concerned about this, and I am sure the Chief Minister (Datuk PatinggiAbang Johari Tun Openg) is very concerned about the need to reduce traffic congestion in this area, he told reporters after a briefing by JKR Sarawak yesterday.
It will cost us money, but we have to do it. There is no choice, since more and more people are having cars now. We are victims of success, that’s how I look at it. So we have to manage it now or otherwise, we have a big problem in the future, he said.
Masing said the ministry is exploring a long-term solution, which is to build another bridge over the Sarawak River from the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) fisheries complex at Tanjong Bako in Samarahan.
He explained there are two options for the bridge, either to the Bintawa Industrial Estate, which is near the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), or to the Demak Industrial Park.
An upgrade for the existing road to the LKIM fisheries complex will be proposed and a new road proposed for before the Batang Samarahan bridge.
This long-term solution maybe will be done in the next five to seven years.
This is to speed up the traffic movement. As you know many people are living on this side (of Samarahan) for obvious reasons due to the cost (of houses) is cheaper. And every day they commute all the way to get to their workplace here (in Kuching), he said.
Masing also said the light rail transit (LRT) connecting Kuching city to Kota Samarahan will come after the road upgrading.
We get this done first, LRT comes in later, he said, adding he would not elaborate on the LRT as it is not under his purview.
Abang Johari recently said the LRT idea had to be shelved for now to give priority to supplying water and electricity to the rural areas.
The briefing was conducted by JKR Sarawak deputy director (infrastructure) Chai Tse Jin and assistant director of roads Chew Chee Yau.
Also present was Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation permanent secretary Datu Safri Zainuddin.
Source: SARAWAK GOVERNMENT