MIRI: The government's Long Lama clinic in rural northern Sarawak, which caters to a population of 40,000, has been shut down due to soil erosion.
The clinic, built at a cost of about RM30mil, has been declared unsafe by the Public Works Department.
Local politicians and residents confirmed on Wednesday (July 8) that the clinic had been sealed off.
Community elder Michael Ding said patients had been told to stay away.
"The entire place is collapsing as the ground below the clinic is cracking up even further.
"The walls of the clinic and the foundation are breaking apart. The surrounding grounds are also collapsing and sinking deeper and the roads are also breaking apart.
"Local residents have been told by the politicians that a temporary clinic may be built in another location.
"However, for now, we have to go to the next nearest clinic in Bakong bazaar to seek medical help if needed.
"The clinic in Bakong is about one-and-a-half hours away by road (about 80km away). For those with no transport, that would be a major problem," he said.
The Long Lama Clinic started cracking up a week ago on July 2.
It may have been built on unstable ground that was cut out from a hillslope. It is believed that development projects taking place below the slope caused the site to become even more unstable, thereby causing the cracks and massive structural damages to the clinic foundation now.
State assemblyman for Telang Usan, Dennis Ngau, said the clinic and its vicinity had been declared unsafe.
"There are more cracks and sinking now so the place is not safe for use," he said.
He said a full-scale investigation had started.
Preliminary probe showed that there was major ground movement at the site of the clinic.
"Below the clinic there is a big infrastructure construction project being carried out now. The construction works below the clinic may have caused the ground to sink," he said.
The clinic started operating about seven years ago.
Ngau said the clinic was built as the medical hub for residents in the Baram district.
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