Copter grounding puts natives in a fix


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 05 Sep 2004

BY STEPHEN THEN

MIRI: The grounding of Hornbill Skyways helicopters since yesterday has the community in the interior regions worried. 

Without the helicopters, Sarawak's unique flying doctor service catering to over 100,000 people in the remote areas would have to be suspended. 

Baram MP Datuk Jacob Sagan said native folk, especially pregnant women, the elderly, children and those with ailments, depended entirely on the flying doctors for regular check-ups, treatment and medication. 

The service covered remote jungle settlements and highlands in Sri Aman, Kapit, Belaga, Bario, Ba'Kelalan, Ulu Baram, Ulu Limbang and Lawas.  

State-owned Hornbill Skyways has more than a dozen helicopters and other aircraft based in Kuching and Miri.  

It is the largest helicopter service provider in the state and currently provides helicopters for the flying doctors. 

Sagan said the Baram parliamentary constituency had more than 400 longhouses and about 50,000 people relying on the service. 

“These interior folks cannot come to the towns regularly due to transportation and financial constraints,” he said.  

“They depend on flying doctors to visit them every month.”  

The Transport Ministry grounded the helicopters following Friday's crash of a Bell 206 Long Ranger which killed four on board. 

State Secretary Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Hussein said the helicopters would be grounded until probes on all the aircraft and into the crash were completed.  

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