Too tight: This stretch of the Pan Borneo Highway near the Suai district needs urgent realignment and expansion.
MIRI: While the Federal Government may have approved RM27bil in Budget 2015 to rebuild and upgrade the existing Pan Borneo Highway from the southernmost end of Sarawak to the northern reaches of Sabah, the authorities must take immediate measures to re-align and widen those existing stretches along the highway that are too narrow.
These narrow areas are very dangerous for driving, especially at night.
And whenever there are any traffic accidents or natural disasters like landslides or erosions of the road shoulders, there will be massive traffic congestions.
Commuters travelling along the old route from Miri to Bintulu, which is 250km long, have complained that the road is narrow and winding, and can just accommodate two vehicles at some stretches.
A regular traveller, Leong Su Kie, said that travelling along the highway, especially from the Miri to Bintulu old route passing through Lambir National Park, was a risky affair and the state authorities must not delay in alleviating these problems.
“I travel by bus regularly from Miri to Sibu via Bintulu, sometimes a few times a month.
“This is always a risky business because some of the express buses travel very fast and when they are passing the narrow stretches, you can see the vehicle coming from the opposite direction shooting pass just inches away,” he said.
The highway was too narrow and there were also many houses built very near to the side of the highway along the Miri to Bintulu route, he said, adding that the JKR must immediately look into these danger areas and take remedial measures to re-align and widen these vstretches.
“There are many sections of the highway from here to Bintulu that require immediate attention,” he complained.
This matter concerning the safety of the Pan Borneo Highway was also raised by the Sarawak Road Safety Department. The last time this issue was raised was last year.
The department had said that there were 13 danger areas along the highway that requireed immediate attention from the relevant road repair agencies.
Miri Division alone had two zones that pose constant danger to commuters.
The highway runs some 1,000km from Kuching to Miri. The highway then passes through Brunei before re-entering Sarawak territory in Limbang division. From Limbang, the highway passes through the other side of the Brunei border before re-emerging into the Sarawak northernmost district of Lawas.
From Lawas, the highway then stretches into Sabah, first connecting Kota Kinabalu and then all the way to Tawau.
The total length of the Pan Borneo Highway from the southernmost tip of Kuching in Sarawak to Tawau in Sabah is at least 2,500 km long, with Miri being in the middle.