KUCHING, June 12 — Former federal works minister Baru Bian today advised locals objecting to the construction of the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) not to put up blockades but to go to court to settle their disputes.
He said the planned highway is a crucial economic connector for Sarawak, especially those in the northern region.
“Any dispute should be brought to the courts or arbitrators. I am willing to mediate between all parties and stakeholders including the government if that can make way for all parties to come to satisfactory agreements,” he said in a statement.
The Ba’Kelalan assemblyman said it would be beneficial for all involved if the federal or Sarawak government representatives could organise a “meet the people” session to explain the project and expectations in detail to avoid misunderstandings.
He added that the SSLR was initiated when he was the federal works minister when Pakatan Harapan was in government.
He recalled that the local communities wanted new roads that they hoped would spur economic activities to their areas, but said some are understandably anxious about the repercussion on their land and property.
He suggested that experienced locals be hired to work on the project site to ensure direct benefit to the communities.
“I hope that all parties — the government, the contractors and the people — will cooperate to ensure the completion of the SSLR according to the schedule,” he added.
Baru said the SSLR is expected to Borneo Malaysia’s road infrastructure to be on par with that of Kalimantan so that Sarawak can benefit once the new Indonesian capital is established.