Perak MB says Gerik-Jeli highway upgrade state’s top priority, ‘shocked’ Putrajaya claims no formal request

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

IPOH, March 21 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad today said he was taken aback by the federal government’s assertion that the state did not submit any application to upgrade the East-West Highway connecting Gerik and Jeli.

He said he had signed a formal application and submitted it to the Works Ministry last year, contrary to the remarks parliamentary remarks claiming otherwise by its deputy minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Mohamad.

“It was our top priority. I was shocked when the deputy minister said that the state government did not make any application on the matter.

“If it cannot be approved, just say so, but don’t say that the state government never applied. It makes the state government look like it’s not doing its job, is not responsible and not concerned, which is unfair to us,” he told reporters after launching a local government colloquium at the banquet hall of the state secretariat building here.

Saarani also said the state government delegation met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who is also finance minister and Tambun MP to highlight the need to upgrade that stretch of the East-West Highway.

The MB said the meeting happened before the retabling of the federal Budget 2023.

He added that the Works Ministry should be making bids to the Finance Ministry for the highway upgrade allocation.

“This is the right procedure for the yearly budget. The ministry gets its input on the matter from the Perak Public Works Department.

“The former works minister had also paid a visit last year to see for himself the condition of the highway. So when the deputy minister makes such a statement, it is not right, and accurate,” Saarani said.

He hoped Abdul Rahman will issue a correction during the Budget debate winding-up.

Recently in Parliament, Gerik MP Fathul Huzir Ayob highlighted news reports of fatal road crashes on the East-West highway linking Perak, Kedah and Kelantan and wanted to know the federal government’s efforts to upgrade or rebuild the over 40-year-old East-West Highway.

In his reply, Abdul Rahman said that the Perak government had made no application for upgrading works.

“The government have been maintaining the 222.94km long stretch of the highway linking Baling-Gerik-Jeli.

“However, checks by the ministry found that no upgrading applications were received from the Kelantan, Perak, and Kedah state governments under the third rolling plan,” the deputy minister said in the Dewan Rakyat.