The government’s announcement that it will be taking over the Sarawak portion of the Pan Borneo Highway project from project delivery partner Lebuhraya Borneo Utara (LBU) has drawn criticism from state leaders, who have asked for the actual cost of the project to be revealed, The Star reports.

Last week, it was reported that the takeover would see the Sarawak part of the project being completed at a cost of RM18.8 billion, saving around RM3.1 billion from the original cost of RM21.9 billion. According to finance minister Lim Guan Eng, the reduction will come from the removal of a 5.5% service fee imposed by the PDP in a previous agreement as well as other reimbursable costs.

Former works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof however disputed the amount of the savings, claiming that Lim had inflated the original cost of the project from RM16.5 billion to RM21.9 billion. She said that the first phase of the project now runs a risk of being delayed from its original completion date by the end of 2021.

Sarawak tourism, arts and culture minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah asked works minister Baru Bian to reveal the actual cost of Pan Borneo Highway running through the state. In response, Baru said that the comprehensive cost of the Sarawak parcel will be announced on February 20, when LBU executes the handover of the project to the Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR).

“A lot of things (are) not detailed yet. But by February 20, you will hear (an) announcement from my ministry,” he told reporters, while refusing to confirm whether the cost of the project has increased following criticism from state leaders who disputed the cost of the highway.