KUCHING (Jan 4): Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen has called for more traffic police and People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel to be deployed to ease traffic congestion caused by construction on the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway traffic light project.
In a statement, Chong asked the Public Works Department (JKR) to improve traffic management during construction and direct the contractor to carry out certain works at night or on public holidays.
“JKR should act immediately and not be just merely issuing press statements and sitting on the suggestions,” he said, adding many commuters were stuck in traffic congestion for over two hours due to the project.
While JKR had issued a statement on Jan 3 promising to improve traffic management, Chong said commuters had complained they had in fact suffered the worst traffic congestion in weeks on the same day due to the construction works.
The Stampin MP pointed out both federal and state ministers handling public infrastructure development are from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), with Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi being the federal Works Minister and Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas being the state’s Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development.
Chong claimed Nanta seemed to distance himself from the public outcry over the traffic congestion by claiming the project was not under the purview of his ministry but the state government and state JKR.
“Don’t tell me that as a Minister of Works, he (Nanta) could not request his colleague or the state JKR to be more efficient and effective in the traffic management of the construction site,” he said.
Chong claimed affected commuters found driving on the stretch “torture”.
“While we, as road users, understand that there is always some level of inconvenience caused by any road construction project, the level of inconvenience suffered by the road users along the Kuching-Samarahan Expressway caused by the construction work is just unbearable.
“It is not just a matter of inconvenience but torture,” he claimed.
Chong also suggested there should not be any road closures during the day while the project is being carried out unless absolutely necessary.
“With the huge GPS election victory in 2021 and the huge number of ministers and deputy ministers appointed to the federal government, we would expect both the state government and the federal ministers to be more responsive to the suffering of the people, not pushing off responsibilities and keeping quiet,” he added.