Hubert Burda Media

Prestige Heads East: Johannes Lo

The executive director of Pembinaan Azam Jaya Sdn Bhd talks about his role in developing Sabah’s infrastructure 

It was nearly 17 years ago when the city of Kota Kinabalu received her first-ever flyover. The completion of Jalan Nenas flyover paved the way for the city capital’s thriving development and the construction company who was part of this monumental moment was Zamaro Sdn Bhd, now known as Pembinaan Azam Jaya Sdn Bhd. “Most of the city’s flyovers were constructed by us, including the Karamunsing flyover and the Wawasan flyover,” says Johannes Lo, who is currently serving as executive director in the family business.

Since its inception in 1987, the Azam Jaya Group has contributed to Sabah’s nation building and urbanisation through its various infrastructure development projects. More recently, the company has branched out into property development and Johannes is responsible for spearheading the department. “We mainly specialise in infrastructure – constructing roads, bridges and tunnels but Sabah’s flourishing economy has brought demand for development. We wanted to diversify our portfolio so my father took the initiative to establish the development wing in the company,” Johannes explains.

As the company embarks on its first development project, Johannes shares that they are still in the early stages of the development, so he spends most of his time in the office planning and sourcing for materials. “Our first development project is called The Factory and it’s a small development of 29 showroom units cum warehouses located in Inanam,” he elaborates. The Factory is designed with a contemporary architecture in mind and will cater to the market demand for light industrial warehouses. The project is due for completion in 2019.

When we breach the subject of infrastructure, Johannes brings up the Pan Borneo Highway project, one of the biggest projects launched in East Malaysia’s history. “The highway will link Kuching to Tawau and this will be an upgrade of the entire infrastructure in Sabah. The project will take about 10 years to complete and we are shortlisted to be one of the qualified contractors,” he reveals.

Though the Azam Jaya Group is mainly focusing on projects based in Sabah, Johannes hopes to grow the company nationwide in the future. “Sabah is our hometown and we know it best, but recently I had the pleasure of meeting one of SP Setia’s directors who had a piece of advice to offer. He said, ‘You Sabah boys should come over to Kuala Lumpur, do not be afraid.’ My take from that is if you want to grow, then you have to be daring.”