MIRI (July 1): Repairing the destroyed Tutoh Bridge in Baram is economically infeasible, says Mulu assemblyman Dato Gerawat Gala.
The better option is to ask for help from Sabah-Sarawak Integrated Oil and Gas (SOGP) project to help in building a permanent bridge, he added.
The Public Works Department here has already submitted a plan to their headquarters to replace the bridge at Long Kawa, which was partially swept away by the flood last month.
“However, the design and cost of the bridge have not been finalised yet. Due to the width and condition of the river, temporary measures to reopen the road link is not practical or cost effective,” he said.
Gerawat acknowledged that a permanent bridge would take sometime to materialise. Alternative routes were now being used by the affected people comprising Kelabits, Penans and others in the area.
He also said he had explored all possibilities of restoring this link, including talking to SOGP, the owner of the gas pipeline running from Kimanis to Bintulu, whose workers and contractors were among those who used the bridge.
SOGP, which owns the 500km inter-state pipeline, said it was considering an option for temporary access at alternative location across the Tutoh River.
The destroyed bridge was used by the maintenance workers of Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline (SSPG) and the people of Limbang, Lawas, Baram and Miri to circumvent Brunei which closed its border when the Covid-19 broke out last year.
Gerawat thus urged the authorities to expedite approval for a permanent bridge to an alternative route now being used.
He also said he used this alternative route from Limbang to deliver over 200 food baskets to people in Long Seridan and seven Penan villages in the area last week.
“The route is rough and steep, not safe for inexperienced drivers. Landslides and collapsed culverts are the norms,” he said.
He has also asked all longhouse and village heads in the area to submit report, supported by pictures of the damaged infrastructure, houses and crops to the nearest district office for actions to be taken by the relevant departments and agencies.
For the record, many longhouses, pontoons and individual houses and six suspension bridges in Tutoh were damaged by the flood last month.