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Monday, July 4, 2011

Mega multi-billion ringgit development project for Desaru

The 1.7km single-plane cable-styled bridge across Sungai Johor.

JOHOR BARU: The Government's investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will unveil a multi-billion ringgit development plan for Desaru this year.

Sources told StarBiz Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is expected to launch the project in Desaru either in the third or fourth quarter.

The project will be undertaken by Khazanah's wholly-owned subsidiary Desaru Development Corp Sdn Bhd (DDC) which it acquired in 2010, inclusive of the latter's 1,618ha.

In the pipeline for the development is the building of two international class hotels to be managed by two of the world's renowned hotel management companies and a world-class golf course.

There will also be a theme park incorporating tropical, eco-adventure and water features and a convention centre to cater to the meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition segment.

“The Prime Minster will also declare Desaru as the leisure and tourism region for Johor at the unveiling of the development plan,'' said sources.

Khazanah's objective is to turn Desaru, on the eastern coast of Johor, into what Nusa Dua in Bali is now. Nusa Dua is known as an enclave for large international resorts in southeastern Bali.

Work on phase one of the development project will take place at the sites of the Desaru Resort Golden Beach Hotel, Desaru Holiday Chalet and Desaru Golf and Country Club.

A check by StarBiz to the three said properties recently showed that they have ceased operations and entrances to the premises were cordoned and parts of the structures have been pulled down.

Sources said there were even suggestions made by certain parties in Johor to the Government to include Desaru as part of Iskandar Malaysia economic region since Khazanah took over DDC.

Khazanah is developing Iskandar Malaysia's Nusajaya, one of the five flagship development zones in the country's first economic region via its controlled entity UEM Land Holdings Bhd.

“However, the Government feels Khazanah should focus on the leisure and tourism sector in its development agenda for Desaru instead of multiple sectors,'' said the sources.

Sources said Khazanah's role is to attract local and foreign investors to Desaru and they can either undertake the projects privately or on a joint-basis with Khazanah.

Sources said the development of Desaru would also complement the US$20bil integrated downstream oil and gas complex in Pengerang by Petronas in Johor's southeast region.

Dubbed Rapid or Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development, the project is aimed at building something larger than Kertih.

Workers in the oil and gas-related industry at Rapid, including expatriates and their family, would need to unwind and Desaru, just a short distance away from Pengerang, is the perfect place for them to do so.

The opening of the last 27km stretch of the 77km Senai-Pasir Gudang-Desaru Expressway early this month also reduces travelling time from Johor Baru to Desaru from two hours to about 45 minutes.

The RM1.4bil expressway links Senai to Desaru in the eastern part of Johor and connects to Pasir Gudang at the Tanjung Langsat industrial area via the Pasir Gudang interchange.

The last stretch includes the 1.7km single-plane cable-styled bridge across Sungai Johor, one of the longest of its kind in the world with a 500m span.

By The Star

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