Labuan: The decision not to build the Labuan-Menumbok bridge is a big let down for the people here and in Sabah, said PAS Chief here Matusin Abdul Rahman.
He said it was an anti-climax, especially after giving 10 years of hope that there would be such a link under the Labuan Development Authority Plan (1997-2105) and subsequently a feasibility survey on the project by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
He said to scrap the proposal because of the high cost was not convincing.
“When the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was built at an astronomical cost on one queried even though the project was in surplus to need, even today the KLIA is not fully utilised.
Why not the bridge which would benefit about 5 million people in Sabah, Sarawak and here?” asked Matusin.
He noted that it appears that Labuan and Sabah are not considered important to Federal.
“In case of Penang, a second bridge was built at a cost of about RM5 billion. Penang already has a RM850 million built in 1997 and in the case of Singapore a second bridge is being considered,” said Matusin.
He said this was a clear example of discrimination.
The Federal authorities should take note that according to UMS findings, if the bridge was to be built now, it may cost RM3 billion and double if it was delayed .
Hence, if not implemented now, it would never happen in future.”
When estimate was first made on the Labuan-Menumbok link, the cost was put at RM550 million in 1997. Many had expected the bridge to be included in the 10th Malaysia Plan,” said Matusin.
He recalled that when the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was here for the ground-breaking ceremony for the RM80 million Halal hub in March, last year, he was confident that the proposed bridge would materialise and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman responded saying that the bridge would not only facilitate travel but also business and trade.
He said the bridge would assure a bright future for the island and would help reduce the high cost of consumer goods here, including vegetables.
Whereas a bridge would definitely mean cheaper goods.
He also dispelled fears that a bridge would mean the end of the island’s free port status. He said the status created by the British since 1884 could still be maintained with the establishment of CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine facilities).
Without the bridge people in Labuan were inconvenienced in many ways including when seeking medical treatment. Many cases had to referred to QE Hospital in KK and this placed Labuan folks at a disadvantage.
Many flights are not always available and going by ferry meant waiting for hours when the patent needed emergency treatment.
“Such cases are quite regular here and a bridge would certainly be benefical.”
On the island being flooded with mainland registered cars if the bridge was built, Matusin, said it was the responsibility of Labuan Corporation to ensure this won’t happen