LAST UPDATED ON: Thursday, 23 February, 2017 11:17:15 PM



Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak

Pan Borneo started from Sematam Town. It was a mostly smooth, sometimes bumpy but altogether enchanting drive to the north-western coastal town of Pekan Sematan, about 100km from Kuching City.

The forested hills, the rocky boulders, meandering rivers and villages all make for a scenic and memorable journey through rural Sarawak.

Slow-moving lorries carrying crude palm oil, construction materials and living goods reminded us that the two-lane single carriageway is a main route for commerce that is about to grow in importance as part of the Pan Borneo Sarawak Highway.

Pan Borneo Sarawak Highway was  launched in September 2015 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak

The Pan Borneo Sarawak Highway will cut across the state of Sarawak from Telok Melano, Sematan in the northwestern tip to the eastern Merapok town in Lawas where it will connect with Sabah.

The Pan Borneo Highway covering the two states is estimated to cost RM27 billion,

1- RM14.2 billion allocated to the Sarawak side
2- RM12.8 billion allocated to the Sabah side

Total = RM27 billion for both Sarawak and Sabah


The Telok Melano-Sematan 32.77km stretch was estimated to cost around RM580 million.

The entire length of the highway will be 2,239km. Work has already begun to link Semantan to Telok Melano, and is causing much excitement among the village locals in Kg. Telok Melano.

The Sematan folk are mostly fishermen and farmers, some are boat operators and others tourist guides.

Telok Melano is a village with 200 to 300 residents in similar lines of work. Some of the younger ones are tourist guides, taking advantage of the proximity of the Tanjung Datu national park - which, at 14 sq km, is the smallest in Sarawak but arguably the most beautiful.

There are no proper roads on the rough terrain between Telok Melano and Sematan, and travel is mostly by sea.

Boats from Sematan to Telok Melano are infrequent and unscheduled, and are not in service during the monsoon season (October-February) due to high seas.

A big boat costs RM700 and a speed boat RM450 to hire for unscheduled trips. The locals, including teachers, in Telok Melano complain about transport problems because they have to do their shopping in Sematan.

If not for the travelling difficulties, many more tourists and other visitors would come to Telok Melano.

The building of the two-lane single carriageway to Telok Melano means much more than convenience of travel for locals.

Work on it started in April 2015 and is scheduled to be completed in 39 months. The construction is being carried out with 300 to 500 workers.

With the Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary on one side and the South China Sea on the other, the new road is certain to make a scenic drive.


Updated on 2016-06-04

2,239 kilometer-long
Pan-Borneo Highway

The Pan-Borneo Highway was built in 1986 to link the two East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

It begins in the district of Sematan in Sarawak, and passes through Kuching, Serian, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang, Lawas, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau.

From Sibu one can take off from the main route of Pan Borneo Highway and travel by boat on the mighty Rejang River passes through Kanowit, Kapit to Belaga the heart of Sarawak

Sri Aman Town is off the Pan Borneo Highway

Between Sabah and Sarawak, the highway passed through two halves of  Brunei.


"...the real need of Pan Borneo Highway is to get the highway upgraded, finally completed and properly maintained, not “to start construction…”



‘Why funds for Pan Borneo Highway minus from budget’
According to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Sarawak was under the notion that the RM16 billion federal fund to build the Sarawak stretch of the highway was a separate allocation on top of the normal given amount.


Pan Borneo Highway fact sheet

1) The Trans Borneo Highway was first talked about in the 1960s and when Malaysia was formed.

2) The building of the renamed Pan Borneo Highway was finally included in the Barisan Nasional manifesto of the last general election.

3) The current trunk road is 87% two-lane single carriageway. The completed highway will be four-lane dual carriageway.

4) The width of one existing lane on the trunk road is 3m. The new highway calls for each lane to be 3.5m wide. A central divider will be 4m.

5) The highway between Sarawak and Sabah is estimated at 1,700km. Sarawak’s portion will span 1,076km.

6) Travel time across Sarawak should reduce from 19 hours to 12 hours.

7) The new speed limit will be 100km/h across flat terrain (up from the current 70km/h), 80km/h on rolling terrain (from 60km/h) and 60km/h over mountainous terrain (from 50km/h).

8) New concrete bridges will replace metal ones.

9) The building period in Sarawak is divided into different packages. Starting now is a 40km upgrade to the Bakun Dam junction, and next is a 40km new road between Tanjung Datu-Sematan.The 740km Sematan-Miri stretch begins in the third quarter of next year.

10) Highway construction induces a multiplier effect of four times to the economy, based on studies of the North-South Expressway.


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