Sabah's first twin tunnel, which cuts through several hills, will be officially opened to road users this Saturday. Pix by Lano Lan

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's first twin tunnel, which cuts through several hills, will be officially opened to road users this Saturday.

The 600 metre Sepanggar Tunnel is a dual carriageway which shortens the travel distance between Sepanggar port and the state capital.

The RM81.5 million project, under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), was completed two years ago in a time span of 56 months.

Implemented by Azam Jaya Group and supervised by the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia), the project also includes a 2.5km-long highway.

In his speech launching the tunnel on Tuesday, Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the new infrastructure project will further boost the state’s economy, particularly in the sectors of manufacturing, logistics and export-import operations.

"This will shorten the travel distance in transporting goods to Sepanggar port, thus speeding up the operation and movement of containers in line with plans to expand the port.

"This alternative route will also help reduce traffic congestion and create a more comfortable economic environment," he said.

Musa's speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister cum State Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The establishment of the tunnel shaves about six kilometres or 15 minutes’ travel time off the current route of Jalan Teluk Sepanggar.

"More road upgrading programmes under Sedia will be implemented to support development in (Sepanggar).

"We are also looking at enlarging the Universiti Malaysia Sabah-Sulaman road to accommodate increased traffic through funding by the federal government," said Musa.

Pairin added that the state government would identify more potential and suitable locations in the state to build tunnel roads.

He said construction of tunnels could overcome the issue of roads being damaged due to landslides.

Although constructing a tunnel was costly, he said, tunnels were designed for long-term durability and its maintenance was cost-saving.

“It does not face the risk of landslides, which are common on hill side roads.”

He said information pertaining to the locations would be collected via the cooperation of people’s representatives in each area.

He said the building of tunnels was in line with the road construction development, which looks into minimising maintenance cost.

“We need to follow the development of construction technology in other countries to ensure our roads are long-lasting and of quality,” said Pairin.

Translated from Berita Harian

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