KOTA KINABALU: Once or twice a month Rita Gukon packs the tobacco leaves that she cultivates and cures in her remote village in Kiulu district and heads for the tamu or farmers’ market in Donggongon town in Penampang.
For the trip out from Kampung Sungoi, she used to pay RM25 to RM30 to another villager who owns a Land Rover. Four-wheel-drive vehicles (4WDs) are the only vehicles that can negotiate the steep and rocky track leading to the village.
But from yesterday, Rita has had to fork out more for the bas kampung fare and this will eat into the meagre income she gets from selling tobacco leaves.
Sabah’s rural farmers will be bearing the brunt of the rise in fuel prices, particularly of diesel, as most vehicles plying the village roads in the state’s mountainous interior are diesel powered, said Tuaran MP Wilfred Tangau.
“Our farmers have to struggle just to get their produce to market, and even if they charge a bit more for their vegetables and other stuff, I just don’t know if this can cover the increase in fares,” added Wilfred, whose constituency includes Kiulu district.
Kinabalu Four-Wheel-Drive Club president James Wong said the 20 sen per litre increase for diesel would translate into as much as an additional RM20 for a full tank.
“This is a lot of money for kampung folk,” he said.
Fellow off-road enthusiast Gideon Mosito said the rise would affect the state’s economy, which is driven by the plantation sector.