RECODA adopts new methods to overcome challenges in delivering infrastructure projects

The Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA) had to come up with new implementation models and technical solutions to ensure projects are delivered in a timely manner and within cost, even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the “Challenges and Opportunities of Infrastructure Development in Borneo” online symposium today, RECODA CEO Datu Ismawi Ismuni said the state statutory body faced key challenges in the implementation of its projects.

One key challenge was the timeline, where projects needed to be implemented on a fast-track basis. This is despite the geographical factor, where most of the projects are located in rural and remote areas.

“We need to be innovative and creative in the way we plan and implement projects because we are not implementing projects on a conventional basis. And to go through these areas remains very challenging,” Ismawi said.

Transportation and logistics challenges have constrained access to project sites and the ability to move raw materials, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At today’s online symposium organised by Curtin University Malaysia and the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) Miri Branch, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof delivered the keynote address while Sarawak Minister for Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin participated as a speaker.

Ismawi said technical solutions that were adopted to speed up the planning stage is Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are used for survey data collection.

“With this new technology, survey data for project design can be obtained within one or two months faster than conventional detailed ground survey,” he said.

Another innovation is the procurement strategy, where soil investigation (SI) works are included in the main contract.

“With this approach, we were able to roll out many projects within a short period in line with the concept of fast-track implementation.”

Another new implementational model is the RECODA project management system (RPMS). RECODA has developed a project monitoring system for reporting that includes acquiring, validating, storying, protecting and processing of data.

The key features of this system are its ability to capture the progress of project implementation based on real time, interactive and user-friendly.

RECODA has also held Value Assessment (VA) Labs and Value Engineering (VE) Labs for mega projects like Northern Coastal Highway and Miri-Marudi-Long Panai-Mulu roads.

“I believe RECODA is the only agency in the state where we conduct the VA labs. We invite the YBs (state representatives), community leaders, relevant government agencies and the technical departments to keep inputs and feedback to determine the project scope, timeline and estimated cost.”

“What we discovered is that with the feedback of the YBs and community leaders, the local knowledge helped us in fine tuning the scope of our projects,” Ismawi said, adding that the VE labs are subsequently conducted to iron out the detailed engineering design.

Meanwhile, Ismawi said new strategic masterplans have been set in place for Kapit and Bakun to benefit from Indonesia’s relocation of its capital to Kalimantan.

“You will see in years to come, more and more people will be attracted to live and work in Kapit. The property sector will grow. All the industries will grow. Things will change because of new road connectivity and the investments that we can bring in,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo officially announced in 2019 that the country’s new capital city will be inaugurated in 2024. Kapit will be the closest urban centre in Sarawak to the new capital, which may be potentially sited in East Kalimantan.

“The reason Kapit now is no longer the Kapit as we knew before is because Kapit is now accessible by road from Sibu. The idea is that with a masterplan, we can promote the region to the investors in a very systematic manner,” said Ismawi.

He added that a masterplan is also in place to develop Bakun, which is also close in proximity to the border. Among the benefits could be in the form of supplying electricity to the new capital from Sarawak’s dams, including Bakun.

“We are also going to develop a lakeside township and also an island township, and once we have that done in a very systematic manner, we will be able to attract potential investors to go to Bakun.

“If you look at other parts of the world, anything to do with lakes has great potential. Tourists like to go to lakes. There are many many examples, such as Lake Como (in Italy). That is the vision for that area.”

In addition to drawing investment to SCORE and creating job opportunities for Sarawakians, RECODA is also tasked with implementing infrastructure and socio-economic development projects through its three development agencies – the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), the Highland Development Agency (HDA) and the Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA).

RECODA is the implementing agency for infrastructure and socio-economic projects in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) region, which covers 80% of the state’s area.

In 2019, RECODA was entrusted by the Sarawak Government to implement socio-economic and infrastructure projects in the regions overseen by the three development agencies with a total fund of RM4.5 billion.

A total 268 projects are to be implemented including road, bridge, water supply, socio-economic programmes as well as master and structure plans.

In 2020, the Sarawak Government also announced two mega projects to be implemented by RECODA namely, the Northern Coastal Highway (NCH), formerly known as the Pan-Borneo Highway Phase 2; and the Miri-Marudi, Marudi-Mulu (Long Melinau) and Long Panai-Long Lama Road Network.