It’s no secret that many federal roads are in dire need of upgrades and proper maintenance, but have not received the necessary care due to a lack of funding, which has limited the ability to carry out the work. The issue has been ever present, and very much deep-rooted.

In the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12) that was presented by prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday, the government acknowledged that the long-standing issue of road maintenance, whether implemented on a corrective or preventive basis, remained an issue that was unaddressed, primarily due to a lack of resources.

That continued shortfall meant that a preference for corrective maintenance over scheduled maintenance was inevitable, aggravating the problem. The inability to perform proper maintenance and repairs has led to the degradation of roads, reducing their lifespan as well as raising maintenance costs in the long run.

In the document, it was stated that during the 11th Malaysia Plan, federal funding allocation was only sufficient to cover 25% of the total requirement for federal road maintenance. Back in 2018, it was reported that the yearly cost for maintaining federal roads was around RM2 billion, but the works ministry only received between RM600 million and RM800 million a year.

Both the works ministry’s officers and experts have previously stated that federal roads needed to be resurfaced every seven years, but this practice was never carried out. Requests from the ministry for a bigger budget allocation have been an annual affair, but until this happens, the situation is something motorists will have to live with.

The plan does outline some interim solutions, stating that a preventive maintenance approach will be adopted to extend the lifespan of roads and bridges using advanced materials and innovative technology proven to be able to increase road lifespans. A number of pilot projects using these have been undertaken, and will gradually be implemented in maintaining selected roads and bridges across the country.

Among the technologies that will be applied is an ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) to support the higher allowable axle load of commercial vehicles. The UHPC will be used mainly in replacing and upgrading aged and narrow bridges.

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