Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taib agrees Bintulu needs second bridge

KEYS TO AIRCRAFT: Taib receiving aircraft keys from managing director of Airflite Limited Australia, Homer Constant (right) on behalf of the aviation college.

BINTULU: Chief Minister Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud admitted that a second bridge linking the town to Kampung Jepak is required.

“However, the financing needs to be studied thoroughly first,” he said when officiating at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Gulf Golden International Flying Academy (GGIFA) International College of Aviation at the local airport yesterday.

He said this in reply to GGIFA's executive chairman, Dato Morshidi Abdul Rahman's suggestion that a second bridge was needed to span Kemana River between the town and Kampung Jepak as a way to balance and stabilise local development.

Taib concurred and gave assurance that the state government would look into the proposal.

"If you have a good plan for the bridge I will be happy to support it," said Taib much to the delight of the audience.

In fact, GGIFA’s parent company, Gulf Golden Square Sdn Bhd, had submitted a proposal to the state government through Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) to such a bridge on a private financing initiative (PFI).

Morshidi believed that the bridge would help transform Bintulu into a very dynamic town and create new growth centres in Jepak area.

Other forms of development in the pipelines include transportation and communication infrastructure linking Bintulu, Mukah and Tanjong Manis, which are all within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

On the flying academy, Taib said it was another step that would bring Sarawak to a higher development level.

He said the state's second wave of politics of development required not only a lot of industrial expertise, skills with quality knowledge, but pilots as well.

He praised Morshidi for taking the initiative to venture into the aviation sector to produce pilots, technicians and engineers.

Admitting that pilots are in high demand globally, Taib observed that many Malaysian pilots migrated to Middle East countries where salaries are much higher.

Earlier, Morshidi has said that due to the high demand for aviation -related training, the academy’s future expansion plan would involve the building of new campus not far from the current location.

"We are in the final stage of purchasing the 10 acres of land from SGOS Holding Sdn Bhd. Initially we wanted 45 acres site, but the price of the land is beyond our means," he said.

He hoped to start work on the new campus sometime this coming June and scheduled the completion for June next year.

“The RM120 million campus (on 45 acres sites) can accommodate at least 800 students inclusive of staff housing.

"We expect to train at least 300 cadet pilots and 200 to 400 technical and engineering students.

“Once completed, we will have the biggest aviation college in the Asia Pacific region complemented by the largest training area of 400 square miles," he said.

The first group of at least 18 trainees from batches one and two are expected to graduate and obtain their commercial pilot licences with Air Transport Pilot Licence (Frozen) this coming April.

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