TAWAU: The key for numerous overflow of benefits entering Sabah is by ensuring road connectivity with neighbouring country, Indonesia which is the fourth most-populous nation on earth at 271 million people.
On the North Kalimantan-Kalabakan district border, about 106 km from here, is 40 kilometres of logging road which is being eyed by the government for development.
The rugged pot-holed route which traverses oil palm plantations, jungle and rivers connects Kampung Serudung, Kalabakan on the east coast of Sabah to the town of Simanggis in Indonesia.
Sabah Assistant Minister of Finance, Sarifuddin Hata said a RM600 million allocation provided for Kalabakan for the constructions of Kalabakan-Serudong Road and the Customs, Customs and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) in Serudong, places Sabah on track to make preparations in order to benefit from the shift of the Indonesian capital to Kalimantan.
‘’The large allocation is indeed needed as the early preparation of the state to receive the effect of development of the new Indonesian capital in Kalimantan,’’ he said.
Sarifuddin said the allocation is also important for the operations of the security forces on the border areas including involving the construction of an army camp.
‘’We will definitely be able to boost the supervision on the national border area especially involving the economy,’’ he also said.
According to Sarifuddin, the announced budget paves the way towards the development of the new Kalabakan town, providing business opportunities and employment to residents of Tawau and an economic overflow to Sabah.
In addition, Tawau Extreme Expedition 4×4 Club president, Jeffry Onn Hamzah regards the construction of the Kalabakan-Serudong Road as capable of developing Sabah in stages.
‘’During our 8,000 km Borneo Tour Expedition in 2012, 20 four wheel drive vehicles from the club travelled along the Kalabakan-Serudong logging roads.
‘’We saw the border roads in Simanggis, Indonesia had been tarred, only waiting (to be connected) to the Kalabakan side, this is a sign that Indonesia had been ready for a long time towards a co-operation (with Sabah).
‘’As lovers of the extreme sport, we see the construction of the road as opening further room for co-operation with Indonesia in extreme sports especially in Sabah.
‘’Even currently, we are co-operating with the Indonesia Off Road Federation (IOF) and we can conduct many programmes and invite them when this road is operational. This directly brings positive economic and tourism overflow to Sabah,’’ he said.
Jeffry, who is also Tawau Open University Malaysia acting director, said Malaysia-Indonesia educational co-operation can also be held.
‘’There are universities in Balik Papan and Samarinda, maybe collaborations can exist, other than attracting international students,’’ he added.