LONG LAMA, Baram: The Long Lama Bridge which is under construction will change the economic landscape of Long Lama and Telang Usan as well as Baram when completed.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said the bridge is one of the infrastructure projects implemented under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative.
“To what level will be the impact of the bridge, that we will have to wait and see. But my answer is definitely ‘yes’. The bridge will change the mood of our people. I believe more locals will have a new lease of life due to the effect of economic dynamism such as going into modern farming,” he said.
Dennis further said that the community in Baram would be able to move around unhindered when the RM70-million bridge is completed as currently they depend on a ferry to cross the river.
The completion of the Long Lama Bridge, he added, would enhance road connectivity in Baram.
“I am sure the Sarawak and federal governments will listen to us and our request for the government to build the road connecting Long Lama town to Long Bedian sub-district and from there onwards to Long Iman Penan Settlement along Ulu Tutoh, a 30-minute boat ride to enable visitors to visit Mulu National Park,” he said.
Dennis believed that the road would make it easier for people to visit the world-famous national park as presently flights were frequently cancelled due to bad weather and lately there had been a reduction in the number of flights.
“The mood of locals to travel will be high as the bridge will open up travelling or movements of the people, especially in and out of Long Lama town, Apoh and Tutoh regions. As of now, people feel their movements are limited by the operating hours of the ferry crossing the Baram river.
“The experience of long waiting hours at the ferry point makes people feel reluctant to return to their respective longhouses,” Dennis said.
In addition, he believed that the bridge would be a great relief during emergencies as people would be able to send those who are sick to Miri Hospital any time of the day.
“Now people are reluctant to send the sick down to Miri between 10pm and 7am as the ferry operator will charge hefty fees just to operate the ferry for them. This could be a matter of life and death.
“For this, I thank the Sarawak government especially the late Chief Minister Tok Nan (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) for approving our request for the bridge to be built. Though it was announced by the previous federal administration, the state government will make sure the project is completed as planned. The same will apply to rural timber road upgrading projects.
“I hope the new Pakatan Harapan-led government will continue to give priority to the interior areas and the welfare of those residing here,” said Dennis.
The Long Lama bridge construction across the Baram River started in February 2016 shortly before the Sarawak state election.
“The bridge is scheduled to be completed by early 2019. But I am confident that the bridge will be open to the public by Christmas this year. Based on the contractor’s estimate as of July, it is now 77 per cent completed,” Dennis said.