THE Works Ministry feels that Kelantan should first solve its problem of supplying clean water for the people instead of taking on the proposed People's Highway project.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor, said the Pas-led Kelantan government, which had a high deficit budget, could not afford to build the proposed Kuala Krai-Kota Baru highway costing RM1.8 billion.
Answering a question from Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar (Tumpat-Pas), while delivering his wrap-up speech on the 2013 Budget debate, Shaziman said his ministry was willing to give technical assistance for the proposed highway although he was not confident that the project would| take off.
"They should just wait for the completion of the 463.5km Central Spine Federal Highway from Simpang Pelangi, Pahang, to Kota Baru, Kelantan.
"Based on the first phase of the Highway Network Development Plan, the Central Spine Federal Road has been identified and was part of federal plans for road upgrading since 2008, or the period of the Ninth Malaysia Plan."
Shaziman said the entire scope of the Central Spine project involved the building of new roads and upgrading of existing ones to a four-lane dual carriageway.
He said the project would cost between RM7.5 billion and RM8 billion, but due to financial constraints, the government had decided to do it in phases under the various five-year Malaysia plans, starting from the 10th Malaysia Plan.
"The government had in principle approved the proposed upgrading project for the Kota Baru-Kuala Krai road in 2008, but the project was put on hold to enable the government to review its scope, specifications and cost.
"This is because the government felt the RM1.6 billion cost of the design-and-build contract for the 77km road, quoted by the contractor, was too high at that time."
Shaziman said the government had not ignored the Central Spine project involving east coast states.
He said in the 10th Malaysia Plan, the government's emphasis was to carry out part of Package 3 of the project, from Gua Musang to Kg Relong in Kuala Lipis; and part of Package 5, from Raub to Bentong, Pahang, with the remaining packages starting in the 11th Malaysia Plan.