Highway to cut Labi farms’ delivery times

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds

BELAIT

FARMS in Labi will be able to shorten and meet delivery times more consistently with the inner, rural Mukim now directly connected to the newly opened Telisai-Lumut Highway.

Farmers from Labi’s biggest farms said yesterday that deliveries to the capital previously took from an hour and a half to up to three hours using the old route beginning at Jalan Labi up until the traffic light intersection at Sg Liang which then connects to Telisai through a single carriageway.

By distance, the new 18.6km highway is only marginally shorter for Labi residents, with both routes to the capital just over 100km. The journey from Labi to Kuala Belait is now approximately 10km shorter.

But residents said the considerable time frame for the previous route was down to the relatively narrow, bumpy roads and junctions along the old Sg Liang-Telisai road, while the fluctuations were a result of congestion from commuters bottle-necking the route during peak hours.

With the new highway, a continuous dual carriageway now connects Jalan Labi to the capital about 30km out from the Mukim itself.

“We are expecting our times to Bandar to be shortened. But more importantly, we are expecting the journey time to be more predictable, no matter the time of day,” said the owner of SCY Farm, Hee Chong Lee.

The 52-year-old, who oversees more than 100 acres of fruit and vegetable plantations, said deliveries should now “consistently” hit 90 minutes and below.

“I also commute back to Seria daily. That journey is much shorter now,” he said.

Mattan Bagul, a foreman to Hua Ho’s agricultural and poultry stations in Labi, predicted a more modest improvement to delivery times, pointing out that standard pickup trucks are already limited to 80km/hr.

“It’s too early to say for sure what the traffic flow (on the highway) will be like, but what we’re likely to save most on is whatever time was previously spent stuck in jams (along the single carriageway) during peak hours,” he said.

Similarly, Yong Khian Fook from Pertanian Tropikal Utama said the highway serves as a “huge convenience” but didn’t expect it to drastically improve business to the area.

“Using it (the highway), it’s much, much faster than the old route. The drivers making deliveries will find so too,” he said.

“But at the same time, we don’t expect it to transform business here in the short term. But it does make the trips more convenient.”

Other residents suggested that rumble strips be placed before U-turns leading to and from Jalan Labi to warn highway users of other motorists making turns.

CCCC Third Harbor Engineering Co Ltd from China and local firm Surati Construction built the new $168 million highway over a six-year period. It was officially opened on Tuesday.

The Brunei Times