The Sabah government is revisiting the project proposals for the Pan-Borneo Highway, and this time it plans to look into expanding and upgrading existing roads instead of building new ones, says chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

According to The Star, he said there would be new approaches for the projects, and the government could take over the implementation instead of private companies managing them.

Shafie has had long discussions with finance minister Lim Guan Eng and works minister Baru Bian about different approaches to speed up the Pan-Borneo Highway projects in Sabah without the involvement of private project delivery partners (PDP). Shafie also said the federal government would drop the PDP model in favour of a turnkey approach.

“Let the government departments like the Public Works Department, the Federal Finance Ministry and the state get involved and make it more transparent,” he told reporters during the recent Heart of Borneo conference.

Currently, the Pan-Borneo Highway projects are being carried out by Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd (BHP) in Sabah, whereas Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) handles the projects in Sarawak. A total of 35 parcels of projects amounting to RM12.8 billion are being implemented in Sabah, and it’s expected to be completed by 2025.

Shafie also raised concerns about proposed new roads which would unnecessarily cut through forest reserves. “I hope they take it seriously, I told them not to flatten hills and chop trees, but just expand existing roads that we have,” he said adding that this would result in “new” roads without sacrificing the environment.

The chief minister explained that expanding existing roads would be considerably faster than creating new roads. Upon completion, the Pan-Borneo Highway would span a collective length of about 2,325 km.