LIMBANG: The nightmare of a queue lasting more than five hours for motorists to cross the 20-metre wide Sungai Pandaruan which separates the Malaysian border town of Limbang in Sarawak and Temburong district in Brunei during the holiday season will soon come to an end.
Limbang Member of Parliament Hasbi Habibollah said with the completion of the RM20.8 million toll-free bridge, approach roads to the bridge are also in the final stage of completion.
"The opening of the bridge at the end of this month or early next month, is expected to be a grand affair," he told Bernama here Saturday.
He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah were scheduled to open the bridge but the exact date had yet to be confirmed.
"It will be a historic event as we have been waiting for 50 years for this, and now we can connect the vital missing link of Borneo Pan trunk road from Kuching, Sarawak to Tawau, Sabah.
"It will be a historic event as we have been waiting for 50 years for this and now we can connect the vital missing link of Borneo Pan trunk road from Kuching, Sarawak to Tawau, Sabah," added Hasbi.
He also confirmed that no toll would be imposed for motorists crossing the five-metre high, 14-metre wide and 200-metre long bridge.
"It is free of charge to cross the bridge; the coming school holidays and festive seasons will be stress-free, beginning this year," he said.
The bridge has been a dream come true for frequent travellers commuting in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei as it took a painstaking more than five hours to queue for ferry services just to cross Sungai Pandaruan which took less than five minutes to reach each destination.
Currently, two companies operate the ferry services on rotation basis, with each ferry accommodating a maximum load of 10 sedan/compact cars and up to eight for bigger vehicles like lorries and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Besides the construction of the bridge, a 700-metre road from the Pandaruan Bridge to the Pandaruan Immigration Depot was also being upgraded at a cost of RM22.8 million.
The construction of the bridge which the prime minister described as "the bridge that will bring Malaysia-Brunei closer" after his visit to the sultanate, in conjunction with the 15th Malaysia-Brunei Annual Consultation in Bandar Seri Begawan in 2011, began in June last year.
Meanwhile, Hasbi said the name of the bridge had not been decided.
Locals met by Bernama have suggested that it should be named 'Friendship Bridge' or 'Brotherhood Bridge' to reflect the close relationship between both countries.
One local suggested in jest that it be aptly named, 'Ikan Tahai Bridge' (Smoked Fish Bridge) to reflect Limbang's famed fish products.