BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The $1.4 billion Temburong bridge will be open to the public on Tuesday, nearly six years after it started construction to provide an alternative route that connects Brunei’s most remote district with the capital.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Second Minister of Finance and Economy (MoFE) YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said the decision to open the bridge ahead of schedule came after the government banned Brunei citizens and residents from leaving the country in a bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many residents of Temburong commute daily to the capital but either have to take a 45-minute boat ride across the Brunei Bay or drive two hours overland, passing through Limbang, Sarawak and the four immigration checkpoints along the route.
Opening the bridge early will allow Temburong residents to bypass Malaysia while the borders are closed, said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin, and facilitate the flow of goods and supplies to Brunei’s least populated district.
Spanning 26.3 kilometres across the Brunei Bay, it is the longest oversea bridge in Southeast Asia and the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the Brunei government.
The bridge will be open daily from 6am to 10pm but the minister said certain criteria have been put in place for motorists using the bridge.
Only Brunei-registered vehicles in Class I, III, IV and VI are allowed to use the bridge, while Brunei-registered commercial vehicles (Class V) are required to apply for permission from the Bridge Maintenance Office.
Foreign-registered commercial vehicles are advised to continue using the designated ASEAN Highway 150 (AHISO) route.
Users must adhere to the 80 km/h speed limit set for personal/private vehicles and the 65 km/h speed limit for commercial vehicles.
YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin, who is co-chair of the national committee for the Brunei-Muara-Temburong bridge, said works are under way to install CCTV cameras and cables.
Jalan Kota Batu is also undergoing expansion work and is expected to be completed by the end of April, he added.
A patrol team will be on site to control traffic, he said, adding that the Royal Brunei Police Force will assist in ensuring smooth traffic flow.
The minister added that authorities will conduct continuous monitoring and the bridge will be closed down any time during adverse weather conditions or instances that warrant the closure of the bridge.
Minister of Transport and Infocommunications YB Dato Seri Setia Abdul Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohammad Yusof advised motorists to avoid non-essential travel through the bridge for the time being.
He told The Scoop that while the Brunei-Muara and Temburong district passenger boat services are still operating, a limit has been imposed on the number of passengers as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam and boat operators will provide hand sanitisers and soap at the Bandar Seri Begawan boat terminal and Bangar Passenger Terminal for passengers before boarding, he said.
Queries on the bridge can be directed to the Darussalam line 123 or emailed to the Bridge Maintenance Office. In cases of emergency, users can contact the Operation Centre via Darussalam 123 line.