Sarawak mulls single transport authority

Desmond Davidson

Sarawak is exploring the idea of establishing a single transport authority. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 29, 2023.

SARAWAK is currently exploring the idea of establishing a single transport authority, Premier Abang Johari Openg told the state assembly today.

He said the move was part of the strategic steps forward for the state in the management of its transport sector.

Abang Johari said the state’s transport experts are currently studying Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) set up as a basis for its model.

The Singapore LTA, he told the assembly at the last day of its sitting, “plans and manages the whole Singapore’s public transportation system through active private sector participation”.

“Transformation of our transport sector must be managed through a holistic and integrated approach. We need to strengthen our transport management and coordination to ensure its service delivery fulfils the public demand,” he said.

Abang Johari also told the assembly that beyond the development of roads, the government is also dedicated to improving the state’s transport and logistics sector for “better connectivity and to accommodate the growing demand of industries”.

He said MASWings was acquired because air transport plays a crucial role in the economic and social development of Sarawak.

“I wish to emphasise that the acquisition of MASWings is equivalent to our investment in infrastructure development as public goods.

“Air travel connects and provides a fast and efficient mode of transport within Sarawak, with other parts of Malaysia, Asia and the rest of the world for business and tourism activities.

“Therefore, it is not profit-motivated. Rather it is essential to complete our transportation and logistics network in air connectivity within Sarawak and the region at a reasonable price.”

The premier said when MASWings becomes a Sarawak-owned airline, it would be able to provide “more guaranteed essential air services even on less profitable routes”.

Last month, the Sarawak government, state-owned air charter company Hornbill Skyways Sdn Bhd and Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd, signed a memorandum of understanding for the management of rural air services by acquisition of shares in MASwings Sdn Bhd.

Abang Johari said through the acquisition, Sarawak is committed to upgrading MASWings from a rural air service provider to a regional airline.

“I am confident that this initiative will improve our air connectivity and open more opportunities in trade, business and tourism.

“The improvement will allow us to better promote Sarawak as a premium destination for responsible tourism and business events given Sarawak’s natural settings and eco-friendly environment,” he said.

He added it’s also Sarawak’s aspiration to elevate the state’s aviation sector and expand air connectivity to nearby regions especially Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

“For us to be more efficient in providing air services, we are also preparing Sarawak to become an aviation hub and tap the potential for maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and training centres for aviators in this region.” – November 29, 2023.

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