Costly bridge necessary for Labuan’s growth, says PM

The bridge could improve investors’ confidence, while allowing full mobility for people of Labuan

By D KANYAKUMARI / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government will continue with the development of the proposed bridge between the Federal Territory of Labuan and mainland Sabah even if the cost is high, as it is an important element that would ensure the island’s economic growth.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said the development is important as Labuan is a rock that has supported the government.

“I will tell you, many of our critics have said that the cost of building this bridge is not viable, but the government is not only looking at the rate of return.

“We want to see the overall development of Labuan and that is something you cannot quantify,” he said at the launch of the Labuan Development Blueprint 2030 yesterday.

He said the bridge is necessary in an effort to improve the economy of the island, following the downturn in the oil and gas business that had severely affected the people of Labuan.

Najib said the bridge could improve investors’ confidence, while allowing full mobility to the people of Labuan and mainland Sabah.

He added that the government has also given the approval for a feasibility study to be conducted for the bridge.

“It is not just a feasibility study for a bridge, but an implementation study to see how the implementation can be done in the best way.

“I hope this study will be done soon and that its results will come out in favour of what we (the government) want, and then we will be back here to build the bridge for you,” he said.

Besides the launch of the Labuan Development Blueprint 2030, Najib also launched the Labuan Business Financial Transformation Plan and Labuan Grand Prix of the Sea.

Meanwhile, he announced two housing projects — namely the People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats and the 1Malaysia Civil Servant Housing Scheme (PPA1M).

“The 500 PPR units, which are to be located in Batu Arang, Labuan, will be rented out at no more than RM124 a month.

“If the people of Labuan would like to buy it, they can purchase the unit which costs RM215,000 to build at only RM42,000,” he said.

He added that the government is subsidising some RM86 million for the whole project at RM173,000 per unit.

Najib said as for the PPA1M landed houses for civil servants, the 160 units will be sold at RM190,000.

“That is 40% below the current market price and the government is subsidising up to RM3 million for the whole project.”

He said the transformation plan prepared by the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) could garner international media coverage that will eventually result in carrying the island’s brand across the world.

As part of the plan, Labuan IBFC is building the Grand Prix of the Sea which will be used a home base for the South-East Asia finals of the Power 1 race, a race for power boats.