The Malaysian federal government is committed to the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sabah and will collaborate with the Sabah state government in resolving issues surrounding its construction, according to a report by The Star.

Land acquisition is among the issues faced, and despite the challenges the project will be implemented, and workers as well as companies involved in the construction of the highway have nothing to worry about, said works minister Baru Bian. In May, it was reported that the Sabah section of the Pan Borneo Highway could be dropped; across Sabah and Sarawak, the highway would span 2,325 km.

“I understand that they are very jittery about the whole thing, including the government’s direction regarding the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah. But I want to give assurance that the Federal government will carry out the project. It is our project and we want to see it completed well so that everyone would be happy,” the works minister said.

Acquisition of land has been a major hurdle in Sabah where the project is set to take place, and the Selangau MP said that the Works Ministry will need to work with the state government in order to get around the matter. “The land acquisition process includes evicting land dwellers, who could be staying there either legally or illegally,” he said, adding that eviction and land valuation are under the state government’s jurisdiction.

“I understand that the Land and Survey Department has an enforcement team working on eviction,” The Star reported Baru as saying, adding that the government will discuss with the finance ministry on how to best implement the remaining packages despite budget constraints in order to prevent delayed payments and ensure that all stakeholders are happy.

The highway project in Sabah is separated into 35 work packages worth RM12.8 billion, with seven of these packages implemented between April 2016 and December 2017, the daily reported. An independent consultant will be appointed for the reviewing of project costs, and to discover whether or not there is room for negotiation with the project delivery partner for price reductions, Baru added.