MARUDI: Driving to Marudi is a massive pain, literally and figuratively, because the dreadful conditions of the road will shatter every inch of the bone, misalign the spine, and rearrange the internal organs.
From the Pinku junction along the Bintulu-Miri Road, the distance to Marudi is only 44 kilometres which should only take not more than an hour on any normal road condition.
The view of the tar-sealed road upon entering the junction was a happy sight, but do not be misled by the impressive look because true enough, looks can sometimes be deceiving.
After a sweet and smooth cruise through nine kilometres, the rest of the journey was beyond rough on one of the most treacherous roads in Sarawak.
The BAT 7 rocked, stuttered, slid and rumbled through the 30–kilometre ‘roller-coaster’; a bumpy, bone-shattering, potholed and washboard muddy road.
Imagine a spring bobble-head figurine seated on the dashboard of the car shaking, wobbling, bobbling and jerking uncontrollably and ending up crooked or tilted to one side and possibly broken upon reaching Marudi.
It takes a skilled and seasoned driver to navigate through that rough and muddy road.
Motorists have to be really careful while closely controlling the wheel, else a bump and their vehicles are headed off the road or worse, down a ravine.
At some notorious stretches, vehicles will stop by the side to allow oncoming vehicles, one at a time, to maneuver through with extreme caution.
The BAT 7 was relieved to finally arrive at Marudi after some three hours and was just in time to be the last vehicle to catch the ferry to cross the Baram River.
After the ferry point, the two-kilometre road to Marudi town was a smooth and easy journey.
Commenting on the treacherous road condition, Marudi assemblyman Datu Dr Penguang Manggil revealed that making a trip back to his constituency every weekend will require a good massage afterwards each time.
“We hope that the road will be completed hopefully by March 2019, and the contractors are now doing the 9km of the 44km stretch of road.
“There is a lot needed to be done because it used to be a logging road 20 years ago before being upgraded by the army under the Jiwa Murni Project,” he said.
Dr Penguang pointed out that the road was built by the army at a cost of RM66 million, but lasted only for a short period of time and was not worth the money spent.
“You just imagine if that money is added to the present RM77 million approved to current contractors, we would have RM143.4 million and you can imagine what kind of road we will get from that amount of allocation,” he said.
Dr Penguang was very worried for the people of Marudi who depended on the road to traverse to Miri daily.
“You just imagine a very sick patient being transported by government ambulance on the horrible road from Marudi to Miri, (he or she) may not even make it,” he stressed.
Dr Penguang, who is Local Government assistant minister, added that the current contractor was doing his best to complete the road on schedule but, in the meantime, the contractor concerned should gravel the three steep hills and potholes before the Baram Regatta, which will be held from Aug 25 to 27 this year.
“I always say that if you have endured 20 years of bad road, why not give me a bit of time in the next couple of years to complete the road,” he said.
When asked what had happened under the elected representative before him, he quipped, “For that, you have to ask him.”
Prior to Dr Penguang joining active politics in the last state election, Marudi was under Datuk Sylvester Entrie Muran.
With this adventurous journey, it is hoped that the government of the day, especially officials and ministers of relevant ministries, go to the ground to experience driving on the 44-kilometre stretch of bone-cracking road.
With the current state administration, it is also hoped that they will take into consideration the dire needs of the people, especially motorists whose lives are put at risk while traversing the treacherous road.
For one who has experienced driving in 4×4 expeditions on logging roads, and who is also a qualified 4×4 Isuzu-certified driver obtained in Pataya, Thailand two years ago, Peter commended the performance of the Isuzu MU-X Type-S which has been fantastic in maneuvering through the roughest terrain and conquering the mud like a mudskipper.
And, thank goodness, the BAT 7 members arrived safe and sound in Marudi town, and longing for a good massage to soothe our tired and exhausted bodies.