By Ben Ng
Commercial bus services ferrying passengers in and out of Brunei Darussalam to neighbouring states have been established and start operation on September 29, 2008, with the first phase including popular destinations such as Kota Kinabalu and Miri.
The first phase, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in late 2007 between transport ministers from the BIMP-EAGA nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines), stated that the first commercial routes will start in Borneo, which includes Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak, Malaysia, and parts of Western Kalimantan.
The official launching of the new service took place yesterday at the Land Transport Department with the Minister of Communications, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Awang Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong, officiating the ceremony.
Also present were officials from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, along with several representatives from private companies that provide transport services.
In his opening remarks, the minister said that the establishment of the new service would ultimately reduce the amount of illegal activities such as "taxi sapu", while also providing the public with a choice between taking the bus, a plane, a ferry, and their cars.
Apart from providing commercial routes to popular destinations, the minister said that the new service would also "stimulate" activity in the transport sector, while also stimulating economic growth between the BIMP-EAGA nations.
A set of "Standard Operating Procedures" formalised by BIMP-EAGA's Land Transport Group has also been set up to allow commercial vehicles to pass through each neighbouring state, reinforced under "Protocol 1" under the "Asean Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit".
The agreement is in line with the Ministry of Communication's vision of preparing Brunei as a "competitive transport and communications hub" with an important role in the region.
The four local companies that were selected to provide the new service received their "offer letters" yesterday. They are ADBS Sdn Bhd, PHLS Sdn Bhd, Binatanaga Sdn Bhd, and Tenaga Travel Agency Sdn Bhd.
Currently, planned routes are:
- Bandar Seri Begawan to Sarawak, onto Pontianak and back to Bandar.
- Brunei to Lawas and back.
- Brunei to Miri and back.
- Brunei to Kota Kinabalu and back.
Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin