Aid convoys make route to Orang Asli settlement impassable

GUA MUSANG: The impending arrival of the monsoon rain brings furrowed brows to the Orang Asli community at Pos Bihai because the logging trail, which is their only access to civilisation, is being damaged by four-wheel drive (4WD) do-gooders.Pos Bihai chief Alang Segan, 50, explains the paradox.

He said during wet weather, large 4WD convoys ended up churning up the only route they have to enter their village when these brought aid to Orang Asli posts in Pos Bihai, Pos Belatim and Pos Balar.

While he is eternally grateful for the help and concern rendered by the outside community, Alang has to plead for due consideration that these trips be done sparingly and on a smaller scale.

“We are deeply grateful that outsiders are very aware of our welfare, but my plea to you is that if there is a need to enter here, there is no need for 30, 40 vehicles to come at the same time because it (the convoy) damages the road.

“For now, as it often rains in the evening, I hope this activity can be reduced or postponed temporarily because we have to keep the road in good condition to get in and out,” he said yesterday, Bernama reported.

A resident of Kampung Tendrik in Pos Bihai, Apek Asud, 39, said almost 1,000 Orang Asli rely on their motorbikes to commute daily, but the 4x4s churned up the logging road, turning basic travel into a hellish experience.

“When the road is damaged like this, sometimes we are forced to spend the night in the forest when going in and out of our village. Usually, it only takes an hour to reach Gua Musang town by motorcycle in the dry season if the road is intact.

“I know they are bringing aid for us, and I really appreciate everyone’s services, but I hope they understand our predicament too, because it is not worth it when we have to deal with a badly damaged road and risk our lives when spending the night in the jungle,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galas state assemblyman Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim said the authorities and the 4x4 teams had been repeatedly reminded about the judicious use of the main road as it is the main artery to sustain the Orang Asli community.

He said damage to the main road interfered with their everyday routine such as children commuting to school, securing food supplies, travelling to and fro and when there is an emergency to rush the sick to the hospital.

“I recommend that a deposit of RM50,000 be imposed on any 4x4 team that wishes to carry out any activities using the Orang Asli route.

“Although the deposit is not enough to repair the damaged road, at least they will be mindful and careful when doing such activities on this route,” he said.

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