KUCHING: The Public Works Department (JKR) and its concessionaires should implement sustainable asset management practices to prolong the life cycle of road assets and achieve value for money spent. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing said they ought to explore and adopt new technologies to improve quality and productivity as well as minimise the environmental impact. He added that public expectations should motivate them to continue improving the services in order to enhance road safety for users.
“While we can take some measures of pride in the achievements, public perception still persists that despite the hundred of millions of ringgit spent over more than a decade, road conditions have not improved significantly. Members of the public are more aware, knowledgeable, have high expectations and in fact are the first to know, capture and transmit information on the condition of our assets. Therefore, the government and its implementing agencies need to engage the public to address the misconceptions as to the concessionaire’s scope in the people’s eyes,” he said when opening a two-day seminar ‘Management and Maintenance of Road Assets Using Performance Based Contract’ at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK).
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, said the state’s privatisation of road maintenance started with 813km trial road which had now grown over the years to about 5,800km. Apart from reflecting the growth of the state’s road network, he said the privatisation had successfully absorbed 561 JKR staff while 131 still remained some 15 years later.
“These staff are spread in 26 offices and depots throughout Sarawak to carry out the maintenance operation. The privatisation is a very significant policy shift that results in a 15-year road concession granted to CMS Roads Sdn Bhd on Jan 1, 2003 following a 31-month satisfactory trial period to maintain state roads.”
The seminar meant a lot for the future direction of the management and maintenance of the state’s roads. With input from international experts, he believed the seminar would look at how road maintenance could make a paradigm shift to meet the needs and expectations of Sarawak and Sarawakians in the future.
“It gives me great pleasure to see this open and professional engagement and collaboration between the state government and the private sector to provide better and safer road assets towards a better future for our state. This is better than the usual desk-based legalistic approach that typically happens.”
Batu Kitang assemblyman and Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang, state JKR director Ir. Hj. Zuraimi bin Hj. Sabki and CMS Group managing director Dato Richard Curtis were among those present at the event. More than 200 delegates from JKR Sarawak, CMS Roads Sdn Bhd and local authorities are attending the seminar jointly organised by JKR Sarawak, CMS Roads Sdn Bhd and International Road Federation.