Labuan bridge project not scrapped

Khalid speaking to ferry commuters during a one-and-half-hour journey from Labuan to Menumbok as part of the ministry’s fact-finding mission on Labuan sea transport. – Bernama photo

LABUAN: The Federal Government is still considering the proposed Labuan-Menumbok bridge and its implementation will take into account the current status of the government’s financial position.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said the proposed project was still being ‘held’ by the government despite its RM15 million techno-economic feasibility study had been scrapped.

“My statement in the last Parliament session as shown in the video (that has gone viral) that was on the bridge was ‘cut’ at the inappropriate part, given the perception the proposed bridge had been scrapped, but in actual fact it was the study that had been scrapped.

“Let us clarify here, what I explained at the last Parliament session on the bridge issue was the cost of the study is too expensive and we were of the view it was unreasonable and that was why we scrapped it, but not the proposed implementation of the bridge,” he said at a press conference onboard of the Galaxy Ferry Labuan to Menumbok yesterday.

Therefore, a cost effective new study to be submitted to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is needed, by taking into consideration the government’s financial status.

“The estimated cost for the bridge construction is said to be not less than RM10 billion, of which the government might feel, is still possible to be implemented within this short period of time, and the implementation method could be through a privatisation exercise,” he said.

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Khalid said it is justifiable, while waiting for the bridge implementation takes off the ground to look into other economic development field to help revive and activate the island’s economic activities.

“While waiting for its implementation, we should look into how we improve the infrastructure development facilities to help benefit the island economically,” he said.

He said what he had explained in the last Parliament session were on the Labuan economic development issues that are sustainable under any economic situation or prevalence and could be addressed within the scope of his ministry’s jurisdiction.

“Other sector like oil and gas (O&G) is volatile which largely depends on the global economic situation. Despite having its complete infrastructure here, the sector cannot simply be developed further as it is still at low performance,” he said.

Khalid said it was inaccurate his ministry had neglected the Labuan’s long-dependence O&G sector and gives more focus on the agriculture, but he stressed, it is not viable to work on the sector amidst its slow movement due to the volatile global oil prices affecting the sector.

He also commented on the Labuan’s international financial status which is now facing challenges ahead.

“I was made to understand why the Labuan financial sector is not able to be developed at par were due to strict controls by the Bank Negara, including the issue of money laundering and that must be studied thoroughly,” he said.

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