KUCHING: The folk in Belaga are fuming with anger and frustration as their plight for a better road has yet to receive any attention from the relevant authorities.
According to Councillor Abu Talip, he and other community leaders from Belaga town plan to stage a demonstration to show their anger and frustration over the lack of maintenance of the 37km Menjawah-Belaga Road, which was built by the Armed Forces under its ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme.
“We are getting really fed up with the lack of attention given by the relevant authorities. We have been asking for the road to be improved but (this plea) has fallen on deaf ears. How long will we suffer?” Abu argued, pointing out that as the powerhouse of the state, surely Belaga District deserved a much better deal.
“We have two mega HEP (hydroelectricity power) dams here – the Bakun and the Murum. So we demand that the relevant authorities should start to do something; otherwise the people would hold demonstrations to show our displeasure and frustration,” he said, adding that the situation in their area had turned worse over the last one week due to incessant rain.
Sharing Abu’s frustration was local businessman Henry Tey, who said the Manjawah-Belaga Road is their main lifeline as most of their goods are now transported from Bintulu to Belaga via that road.
“We used to depend on river transportation a lot before the road was completed but since we now have the road, we really hope that the government could assist us to upgrade and maintain the road. It’s getting too dangerous because it’s very bumpy due to the countless potholes resulting from lack of maintenance, and it gets slippery during wet weather,” said Tey, who is secretary of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Belaga branch.
He said it is high time the government pay more attention to the rural areas as the people there have been very supportive of the projects being carried out in Belaga.
A Kayan community leader Pemanca Umek Jeno urged the government to fulfil its duty to the people who need assistance, and not let them beg.
“How many times should we ask for this road to be repaired and upgraded? We have been promised many times but nothing has been done to improve it.”
Umek said besides the road, the Orang Ulus in Belaga feel that they are being short-changed as they keep on crying for the needs that never seem to come.
“We have highlighted our needs, but how soon can they be fulfilled? Yet when it comes to elections, we never fail to deliver for BN (Barisan Nasional) all these while,” said Umek, who is a Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) member.
PBB executive secretary Datuk Awang Bujang Awang Antek, who hails from Belaga, said he was surprised that the road had deteriorated so badly without proper maintenance.
“Actually, I just came back from my village near Belaga town a few days ago and I saw with my own eyes, a lorry plunged into a ravine. I also witnessed a vehicle not able to ascent a steep hill because it was so slippery.
“In my case, I had to engage on the 4WD (four-wheel drive vehicle) for almost the entire journey as the road was full of potholes and very slippery. So I hope that the relevant authorities would do something about this as soon as possible before anyone gets seriously hurt or even lose his life due to the bad road condition,” he appealed.
When contacted, Assistant Minister of Water Supplies Datuk Liwan Lagang – who is Belaga assemblyman – assured all that he had done his part by writing to all the relevant authorities and even to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing who is also the Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister.