KAPIT: Construction on the 32km Menjawah-Belaga road is ahead of schedule.
Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot said the access road would connect nine Orang Ulu longhouses located between Belaga town and the Bakun hydroelectric dam to the outside world.
The road is being constructed by the army’s engineering corps, based in Kuching, over rugged and hilly terrain along the river bank.
“The army under the Jiwa Murni concept has been tasked to construct the 32km road with an allocation of only RM62 million, which is less than a fifth of the cost using the conventional method.
“And instead of tar-sealing, the soil stabiliser technique will be adopted, similar to other Jiwa Murni projects implemented by the army in Miri and Limbang Division,” he said during a visit to the site recently where he was briefed by Major Bernabas Dickson.
Bernabas said 18 per cent of the construction has been completed, slightly ahead of the targeted 15 per cent.
“Hopefully the project would not be hampered by bad weather and the August 2013 deadline for completion would be met,” he said.
As of last month, 16km of the road had been prepared for the soil stabiliser process.
Bernabas revealed that machinery for the soil stabiliser treatment was already on site and the materials should be delivered in early March.
He added that since the project started last September, the army has not encountered any problems from locals.
“We have provisions to compensate the landowners for their crops but not their land and the landowners here are very cooperative and easy to deal with,” he said.
Due to the cooperation of locals, the counting of crops within the road alignment was completed prior to the construction work.
“Once completed, the Menjawah-Belaga road will provide an alternative land access for Belaga folk to Bintulu through the Bakun Asap highway.
“At the moment, the only access is to drive along 90km of timber roads before reaching the highway, including 12 km which is literally no-man’s-land as everybody is using the road but nobody is maintaining it,” said Dahim.
He also pointed out that Belaga residents, particularly the 1,000 families from the nine villages, were initially sceptical about the Menjawah-Belaga road announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his visit to Belaga in January last year.
The Public Works Department (JKR) had estimated that the construction of the road, using the conventional method, under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) would have cost over RM320 million.