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Malaysia Inland Waterway Transport System in Sarawak

Feb 28, 2014

There has been a resurgence in commercial inland waterway transport, particularly for cargo, in Asia and Europe. The major rivers of India, China and Southeast Asia are being used as an alternative to road transport in order to achieve greater fuel conservation, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and lower road and vehicle maintenance costs.


In Sarawak, the road network is still underdeveloped and, unlike Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, there is no rail network passing through rural areas and connecting the main towns. Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006–2010, RM702 million has been allocated to Sarawak to upgrade rural and village roads in order to improve accessibility and connectivity between rural and urban areas. But building roads is a slow and costly process and, meantime, the state’s rivers can serve efficiently as superhighways from coastal ports into the interior.


Furthermore, the promotion of community-based ecotourism along rivers not only provides additional revenue for the State, but also generates income for poor communities and helps raise awareness of the need for sustainable river management. As elsewhere in Malaysia, the water quality of Sarawak’s rivers is deteriorating. With development, river pollution has increased and water quality has declined. Polluted rivers affect the health of plants, animals, and human beings. According to data from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, there has been a steady deterioration in the water quality of rivers throughout the country, and the Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006–2010, has set aside a huge allocation to help clean them up.


This volume is the seventh in a series of periodic publications reporting on UNDP Malaysia’s work in its energy, environment and human development practice area. The large range of projects being undertaken in this portfolio is designed particularly to support Malaysia’s efforts to achieve high human development for all its people, to eradicate poverty and ensure environmental sustainability.

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