Sarawak is a huge state (the largest in Malaysia) with a widely dispersed population. SCORE is at the heart of the State and covers an area of more than 70,000sqkm, so robust infrastructure including airports capable of servicing large aircraft is essential to the success of SCORE.
Mukah, at the centre of SCORE, is a key location as not only is it where the RECODA headquarters are situated, but it is also designated as a Smart City, so investments in human and social capital will need to beseamlessly integrate with investments in infrastructure and transportation.
Mukah Smart City will be the location for the proposed Mukah Human Resource Skills Development Training Centre, the proposed Science Park and R&D Centre and the proposed Matadeng Industrial Park. If these projects are to get off the drawing board, Mukah will need quality infrastructure including an international standard airport.
The current airport at Mukah is inadequate as it is only suitable for Twin Otters and helicopters and must be upgraded if Mukah is to succeed as a Smart City.
The new Mukah airport will help Recoda attract new investment to SCORE and support the growth of existing businesses, which in turn will kick start more economic and employment growth.
Furthermore, the new Mukah airport will help make companies in SCORE become more efficient as it will allow them to mobilise employees more effectively and efficiently by allowing employees to reach domestic or regional hubs more effectively, reducing travel times.
It will also play a role in the development of tourism in the region. Not only will the airport bring in tourists to a region they might not have visited but it also gives residents the opportunity to develop tourism related businesses and benefit from the influx of tourists.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announced the new Mukah airport project in March and promised the Finance Ministry would appoint a contractor to carry out phase one of the project.
The Finance Ministry appointed Sarawakian contractor Hock Peng in early April 2014. Located about 7km from the town centre, the project is expected to cost RM600 million and is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Indot, CEO of RECODA, said recently, “This is a vital piece of transportation infrastructure for SCORE.” He went on to say, “But this is not just about a new airport that will provide the connections and accessibility international firms need to national and international transport networks, this is about a vital link in the SCORE plan to increase investment, infrastructure and direct and indirect employment for the communities of Mukah and surrounding areas.”
Datuk Amar Wilson also said, “This new direct and indirect employment will have a positive impact on the income levels of the community and enhance the employability of people from Mukah.”
Once the new airport is completed, the area will also see the development of more infrastructure such as energy, roads and utilities. Connectivity will be improved to further encourage growth and as new businesses establish themselves, more residential development will ensure all needs are met and help ensure the strategic goals of Mukah are met, to the benefit of the community.