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Sarawak says exploring proposal to establish state transport authority

Publish date: Sat, 25 May 2024, 09:20 PM

KUCHING, May 25 — Sarawak’s Ministry of Transport is exploring a proposal to establish a Sarawak Transport Authority to manage and operate the entire transportation sector in the state, its minister Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin said today.

He said this holistic approach will further enhance the state’s capability to develop a robust and integrated transport network that meets the needs of Sarawak.

“Creating a Sarawak-based airport management entity will allow us to prioritise investments in expanding the Kuching International Airport (KIA), transforming it into a gateway to Borneo, and developing it into an international hub.

“Similarly, upgrading Miri Airport is long overdue and essential for supporting the growth of our eco-tourism and trade sectors,” Lee said in a statement.

He said he and his delegation were briefed by the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) acting chief executive officer Mohamed Rastam Shahrom in a meeting in Sepang yesterday on a proposal to decentralise MAHB which was supported by the federal Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook and Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

He said the proposed decentralisation would be a strategic move that promises to catalyse regional growth, create jobs, and develop local expertise.

“Importantly, this decision does not entail selling the government’s stake in MAHB to external parties, thus retaining the strategic assets under national control,” he said.

He said he fully supports the decentralisation of MAHB to better manage the airports, particularly those in Sarawak.

“This proposal aligns perfectly with our aspirations for regional empowerment and economic development,” he said.

There are seven airports in Sarawak and 10 active short take-off and landing airports in operating in rural areas.

“Decentralisation presents a unique opportunity for Sarawak to take charge of these airports and Stolports,” he said, adding that KIA and Miri Airport are in urgent need of upgrading.

“By managing these airports locally, we can tailor improvements and investments to meet the specific needs of our region.

“This approach will ensure that infrastructure and services are enhanced to better serve the people of Sarawak and support our economic activities,” he said.

Lee and members of his delegation were also briefed on MAHB’s proposal to the federal Ministry of Transport to upgrade KIA from 2025 to 2040 in phases.

He said under phase 1, the Million Passenger Per Annum (MPPA) capacity for KIA will be increased from the existing five MPPA to eight MPPA, phase 2 to 11 MPPA and phase 3 to 14 MPPA.

MAHB had proposed to increase the MPPA from the existing two MPPA to four MPPA for the Miri Airport in the next rolling plan.

Lee said other matters discussed were on the upgrading of the existing cargo terminal and facilities at KIA and international air connectivity to Sarawak airports.

He said MAHB will work together with his ministry and the Sarawak Tourism Board in grooming the international air connectivity to Sarawak.

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