Rural roads need to be repaired quickly

The past week saw thousands of rural folk in northern Sarawak cut off from the outside world because of collapsed timber roads in upper Baram district.

From Long Akah and Long Miri to Sungai Lewan, there were reports of caved-in roads because of soil erosion.

These roads are deteriorating because of bad weather and heavy use by logging vehicles.

The state government had for years repeatedly said these roads would be upgraded.

The Federal Government too had promised to carry out upgrades under the Jiwa Murni programme.

Rural folk living in settlements of interior Sarawak want these proposed road projects under the programme to be carried out and completed.

Over the past year or so, numerous groups have complained about the horrendous road conditions in the interior.

The natives are asking why these roads have not been repaired despite them being under the list of Jiwa Murni projects during the state elections five years ago.

The projects undertaken by the Defence Ministry were among the topics brought up during the election campaign.

Now, the natives want these projects sped up so that they can travel on roads that are safer and more convenient.

These roads today are in bad shape and dangerous for navigation, especially on rainy days.

The ministry has announced that it will build more roads and upgrade existing ones to link more settlements to the outside world.

For example, the Bakelalan to Bario road project.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein graced the ground-breaking ceremony at the site in Bario to mark the start of construction a few years ago.

Now the rural folk there want a proper time frame for the project to be finished.

It is good to announce and start the project but it is just as important to complete it fast.

The project will connect many settlements — nine populated villages — along the way and benefit more than 3,000 people.

The people hope that the ministry will set a strict deadline to complete the project as there have been cases in the past where rural road projects in Sarawak experienced lengthy delays.

Among the reasons for the delays were bad weather and rising costs of construction.

It is important that vital public infrastructure projects be monitored strictly during its implementation stages to avoid delays or interruptions.

Construction must be hastened now when it is hot and dry and the ground condition is ideal for works to be done.

The Bakelalan to Bario road project is one of six Jiwa Murni projects undertaken in Sarawak by the army.

The total cost of the six projects amounts to RM252mil.

The Bakelalan-Bario road will be the highest road project in Sarawak, located in the mountain ranges bordering the Sarawak-Kalimantan boundary.

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