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Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) was first established in 1906 under the leadership of its first Director, Dato Edmund Roberts. He was assisted by a Deputy Director, including 5 Assistant Directors, namely responsible for administration and finance, development, buildings, roads and water. The small department was given the big task of improving the country's fast-growing needs by continuously improving buildings and the nation's infrastructures.

At the end of 1966, the department promoted Dato Seri Paduka Awang Haji Talib Bin Darwish, making him the department's first local Director. Another milestone in the department's history came when the department's organizational structure saw the introduction of a Director General assisted by a Deputy Director General. Former Assistant Directors were promoted to Directors for all the 5 departments.

The Department further expanded with the appointment of two more Directors in charge of Technical Services and that of Drainage and Sewerage. The department recently celebrated another milestone when it celebrated its 100th anniversary on 2 January 2006, making JKR Brunei Dar​​​ussalam's oldest technical department.

Being the oldest Technical Department in Brunei Darussalam, PWD is involved in the physical development of the country since 1966. In the 1967 annual report, the PWD was referred to as 'Public Works Department' and given financial allocation from the British Government centered in Malaya. With the financial allocation, PWD started its operations to carry out infrastructure and building works.

Since its operation, PWD has built its own office that was called 'Engineer's Office' in 1966. Among the earliest works which PWD had carried out were British Residency building and roads. Also in 1966, PWD has started to clear up site for Brunei Town (now known as Bandar Seri Begawan). PWD's workforce consist of British engineers led by engineer Robert.

PWD's involvement since 100 years ago in Brunei's physical development is undeniable. PWD's achievement can be seen in terms of standard and quality of facilities provided such as highways and roads, drainage and sewerage systems, water supply and water conservation, government buildings and facilities to the public.

PWD achievement is measured not only in terms of physical development but also in terms of the professional workforce. Up to 2006, PWD has produced a lot of professionals in the field of engineering, architecture and management. Until 2006, PWD had produced professionals (Chartered) consisting of the local citizens: 79 engineers (MICE), 15 architects (MRIBA), 6 the quantity surveyors (MRICS / AIQS), 9 engineers (MCIOB), 5 mechanical engineers (MIMech E), 7 administrative officers (MBA), 19 with Masters in Technical field and 16 Masters in the field of architecture. With this local professional workforce, PWD will strive to carry out more projects with international standard.​