MIRI: It is obvious that many stretches of the Pan Borneo highway can no longer cope with the current surge in number of passenger vehicles and commercial transport.
The rise in number of accidents along the highway is an indication that the highway is unable to deal with the sharp increase in number of commuters, said cargo transport operator Chris Chua.
Chua, who travels between Miri and Sibu via Bintulu several times a month told Sarawak Metro yesterday that the highway was simply too narrow and must be widened immediately.
“Two lanes are simply not enough. Traffic now can only use one lane to and another lane from the opposite direction.
“There are more and more trucks laden with tonnes of oil palm harvests travelling along the Miri to Bintulu stretch.
“Everyday there are hundreds of them on the highway.
“The entire 250kms length of highway between Miri and Bintulu is filled with oil palm plantations.
“Whenever these trucks are on the highway, it is a constant danger because passenger vehicles will attempt to overtake these slow moving trucks.
“Since the highway is only a single carriageway in each direction, overtaking poses serious risks.
“The government must upgrade the stretch between Miri to Bintulu into four lanes now or else we will see even more fatal accidents and deaths,” he said.
Chua was reacting to yet another death along the highway.
Two days ago, a long distance express bus belonging to a Miri-based transport company overshot the highway about 30kms south of Miri City while on its way to Bintulu.
The driver died on the spot after he was trapped in his seat when the bus plowed into a field by the roadside and landed on its side.
Eight passengers were injured.
That bus incident was the third fatal accident along the Miri to Bintulu stretch of the highway in the past one week.
Two other incidents that claimed three lives happened near to Bintulu town and involved fertilizer trucks that also overshot the highway.
Chua said that even though Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak had kickstarted the upgrading of the Bintulu to Bakun stretch of the highway last month, it is the Miri to Bintulu section that needs the most urgent attention.
The Miri to Bintulu stretch is the portion that sees the heaviest traffic on a daily basis, he pointed out.