LABUAN: People from both ends would benefit if the Labuan bridge proposed in the 2018 Budget becomes a reality.
The proposal to build the bridge had long existed but the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the budget presentation was the first.
Labuan Corporation advisory council member Datuk Peter Mak said there have been many form of announcements, the highest at ministerial level, but none materialised.
"This time however it comes from the top man and during budget presentation. A feasibility has been proposed and this shows the government is serious.
"The people of Labuan have been waiting for this a long time and this will bring our economy to a new level, on both sides of the channel," Mak said.
Lawyer Nelson Angang said the new link would open up new opportunities in districts south of the west coast in Sabah apart from the island Federal territory.
"In Kuala Penyu for instance there are vast untapped potentials and if the plan to link Labuan and Menumbuk, it will bring a lot of economic development," he said.
Menumbuk, a sub-district under Beaufort, is closest to Labuan and is linked via ferries and passenger boats. People also travel regularly from Kuala Penyu and Sipitang to the island as well as Brunei by sea.
Nelson said with the bridge, land space will no longer be an issue for the island to expand its potentials. "We have a win-win situation here where development can spill over to the mainland."
Various proposals in the past include building a bridge that will connect an island between here and Menumbuk and one that stretches straight to the mainland.
Labuan MP Datuk Rozman Isli said securing a bridge to link Sabah has always been his main agenda.
"I made sure I forwarded this proposal when the Prime Minister called for suggestions for the budget. He listened and on behalf of the people Labuan, we are grateful."