With the new government having announced it was dropping the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) and MRT3 projects, speculation on which mega-infrastructure projects could next come under review has begun. One of these is the Sabah portion of the Pan Borneo Highway, The Star reports.

Sources said that the next item on the radar could be the Sabah portion of the project, which will cost the federal government an estimated RM12.8 billion for 1,236 km-long segment of road that will run across the state.

Work on the 2,325 km-long highway across Sarawak and Sabah, of which the first phase is due for completion in 2021, is currently ongoing, but most of the present construction is happening in Sarawak, with work on the 11 packages awarded under the first phase of the highway already underway.

“The bulk of the work in Sabah has not been carried out yet, which makes it easy to defer the project. In Sarawak, work on the ground in phase two between Miri and the border of Sabah has not been carried out yet,” a source told the publication.

It was reported that the first seven packages planned for the Sabah portion, worth RM3.2 billion, had been awarded, with construction work for five having begun, but sources revealed that these were facing “huge cost overruns” and the previous federal government was already having problems justifying the cost.

Officials in both states are hoping that the federal government will continue with the Pan Borneo Highway project. Last week, Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he was confident the project would go on, while Sarawak Pakatan chairman Chong Chieng Jen stated after GE14 that the project would continue, but with auditing carried out on the cost of the project as well as on the contractors involved.