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The bridge over Pandaruan River, which separates the Malaysian border town of Limbang in Sarawak and Temburong District in Brunei, is scheduled for completion in August 2013 three months before the 2013 ASEAN Summit which will be hosted by Brunei.

The construction of the bridge officially began early June 2012 in Limbang, Sarawak

The bridge dubbed the Pandaruan Friendship Bridge will be a symbol of collaborative success between Malaysia and Brunei and both countries agreed that no-toll will be charge to the bridge user.

The construction of the bridge was tendered out to contractors from both countries, with Pekerjaan Piasau Konkerit Sdn Bhd from Malaysia as the successful bidder and was awarded the contract on April 16.

With the increase in cross-border traffic for various purposes, the bridge will facilitate connectivity, increase transport and logistics activities and create a spin-off for the both Limbang and Temburong especially in socio-economic and tourism activities.

The historical agreement for the construction of the bridge was signed on in September 2011.

The five-span long bridge across the Pandaruan River has been much awaited by travellers from both east Malaysia and Brunei as they currently had to endure many long hours of waiting to cross the 20 metre  wide river by ferry.

The ferry services are operated by two companies on a rotation basis, each ferry has a maximum load of 10 for saloon cars and six to eight for bigger vehicles, and takes approximately five minutes to transport vehicles across the river.

The bridge would facilitate the movement of land vehicles across the river during peak hours, weekends and holiday seasons. During this time, queue time can reach up to five hours.

Not only for that reason, the bridge will make the journey smoother, the time is reduced and thus, business opportunities for both sides will increase.

The five-metre high, 14 metre wide and 189.126 metres long bridge would cost RM20 million to build.

The funding for the bridge will be shared equally between the two countries.

However the cost for the construction of approach roads from Limbang Immigration and Control Post and Puni Customs and Immigration control post in Temburong will be funded by the respective governments.

The proposal to build the bridge was initially made at a BIMP-EAGA meeting, however, the idea was brought forward at the bilateral level between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.

The desire to build the bridge in the area was further lauded by the leaders of both nations in a joint statement during the Annual Leaders Consultation between both countries in 2006 and 2010.

The bridge will also help Brunei play its role in ASEAN’s master plan on connectivity.

The issue of connectivity has become one of the central points of Asean’s goal of realising a single Asean community by 2015.

Connectivity in the Asean context refers to the physical, institutional and people-to-people linkages that would provide the underpinning and lubricant to achieve the goals and objectives of the economic, political-security and socio-cultural pillars of the Asean Community by 2015.

The physical connectivity will encompass transport, information communication technology and energy while institutional connectivity would cover trade and economic areas such as trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, investment, mutual recognition arrangements and capacity building programmes.

People-to-people connectivity would include tourism, education and culture.

The construction of the bridge was also related with the demarcation of previously disputed borders between Malaysia and Brunei.

Source : The Borneo Post and Brunei Times

(this article written for 1BINA.my)