KOTA BHARU (March 7): Kelantan stands to benefit from spillover development when the Federal Government gives priority to the completion of five key projects in the near future, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said today.
He named the projects as the East Coast Expressway Phase 3 (LPT3), Sultan Ismail Petra Airport expansion and upgrading, Pasir Puteh-Machang-Jeli new route, Kota Bharu-Kuala Krai Expressway and Palekbang-Kota Bharu Bridge.
“Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave his approval for all these projects at a meeting of the East Coast Economic Region which he chaired.
“Today, the Kelantan Action Council meeting, which I chaired for the first time, decided to give priority to the completion of the projects,” Mohamed Azmin said after the meeting as well as a meeting with civil servants, here.
Also present was Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Jidin, who is also the deputy chairman of the Kelantan Action Council.
Mohamed Azmin also announced that the Federal Government had allocated RM1.4 billion for development in Kelantan this year, some RM200 million more than the previous allocation.
Elaborating, the Minister said all the projects to be implemented would have a huge impact on the development and well-being of the people of Kelantan as well as provide employment opportunities for them.
On the LPT3, he said it involved a route from Gemuruh in Kuala Terengganu to Tumpat over a distance of 150 kilometres and is important particularly in boosting the economy at the Tok Bali port in Pasir Puteh.
“The Tok Bali port area has the potential to be a new economic corridor and it is important that it be transformed into an industrial site for more efficient shipment of goods,” he said.
Mohamed Azmin said it was necessary to build the new route linking Pasir Puteh, Machang and Jeli to better facilitate land transportation as a means of boosting the Tok Bali port area.
He said that currently everything had to be routed through Kota Bharu and this resulted in a delay.
On the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Mohamed Azmin said its expansion and upgrading would cost RM450 million and the project was expected to begin at the end of this year or early next year.
"The airport has become congested, handling 1.5 million passengers. With the completion of the project, it will be able to cater to four million passengers and become a regional airport hub,” he said.
On the Palekbang-Kota Bharu Bridge, the Minister said the bridge would help speed up the journey between Tumpat and Kota Bharu as the present route is congested, especially during peak hours.
He did not elaborate on the cost of construction.
"The route involves a link between several districts in Kelantan and will be built as a central spine road and incorporates the proposed People’s Highway which the previous Government was unable to build,” he said.
Mohamed Azmin said the council was briefed by the relevant Ministry as to the status of all the projects.
He also said that he would meet Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob to discuss cooperation in the implementation of the projects.
Mohamed Azmin reiterated that the Federal Government was giving priority to Kelantan so that the State would not be left behind in development.