Following the economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic in the Sultanate, national development projects are assessed in terms of priority, needs and the country’s economy. In response, the Ministry of Development (MoD) carries out projects needed to ensure that existing assets are maintained to reduce the need for replacement, while exploring new technologies to enhance productivity.
Minister of Development Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar said this in response to Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Pengiran Haji Ali bin Pengiran Maon’s query on project delays due to economic slowdown at the 18th LegCo meeting yesterday.
The minister said projects which could not be implemented according to the programme will be carried out in phases. Some projects are affected due to equipment being brought from abroad and logistic issues. There are also problems pertaining to foreign workers disrupted by COVID-19.
The MoD, along with other ministries, are implementing projects under the National Development Plan (RKN) to achieve Brunei Vision 2035. The RKN 12 will start in 2023 to support the national vision in the provision of infrastructure.
The ministry is also looking into the provision of pedestrian walkways, especially at growth areas such as Jaya Setia Berakas housing scheme and bustling commercial areas, the minister said in response to LegCo member Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad.
The minister said the Town and Country Planning Department is analysing guidelines and standards for business development to review pedestrian walkways and interconnectivity among buildings that are safe, conducive, customer-friendly and linked to the parking space.
On a query by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Mohimin bin Haji Johari @ Jahari on the production of bitumen by Hengyi Industries Sdn Bhd and whether the MoD plans to enhance the technology capable of absorbing water on the road, the minister said Hengyi Industries has yet to produce bitumen to used as road asphalt.
He also said the ministry, through the Public Works Department (PWD), uses porous asphalt that was introduced when Brunei hosted the ASEAN Summit in 2013. Roads using porous asphalt include Tungku Highway, the capital and Pekan Muara, but it incurs a high cost and proper maintenance as it requires a comprehensive drainage system.
Meanwhile, on a query by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii on local business developments’ (LBD’s) achievements and plans to support entrepreneurs, the minister said interviews were conducted with 201 local companies of which 143 passed.
Meanwhile, the Authority for Building Control and Construction Industry (ABCi) introduced the need for new companies to undergo a written test before interviews as an addition to eligibility to ensure the involvement of local owners is genuine.
ABCi is involved in a programme to upgrade the use of local products and to disseminate registration of local construction products, including 10,000 doors for Kampong Lugu and Kampong Tanah Jambu housing schemes by a local company.
On hiring foreign workers in local construction, the MoD is working with the Labour Department to identify the recruitment of foreign workers where builders must forward a form to start project. There is also foreign workers replacement programme initiative to offer