Apparently the plights of the longhouse dwellers from Sungai Asap resettlement has became a controversy and the dwellers are urging the Anti Corruption Agency to investigate the case.
So far, James Masing and Dr Elli Luhat has responded to the issue. Jabu and Billy Abit remains silent.
The issues are the road leading to Sungai Asap has been neglected and is in bad shape. It was damaged by heavy trucks and lorries belonging to timber companies that have timber concession in the surrounding areas. Not only the timber companies profit from making the jungle bare but their heavy vehicles are the king of the road.
Road maintenance by JKR is none. Monitoring of road uses by JPJ is also rare. STIDC somehow stop their officer from conducting enforcement.
Request for repair or upgrade and complaints have been raised years ago but fell on deaf ears.
Without looking further, the main culprits are the timber companies who have spend kick back to the JPJ, STIDC and Police to keep them away and not doing their job to ensure road users safety. JKR being a typically red-taped department will give excuses that the road is damaged by heavy trucks and it should be the task of JPJ, STIDC and Police to look into the matter.
So while JKR, JPJ, STIDC, Police and the YB pointing fingers at each other, the Sungai Asap road is slowly but surely turning from road to muddy path. That's Malaysian mentality.
* Longhouse dwellers in Sungai Asap deprived of good road
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Asap resident calls for ACA probe
By Churchill Edward
Bintulu-Sungai Asap road still in bad condition: Elli
KUCHING: A resident of Sungai Asap in Belaga has called on the state Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to investigate the controversies surrounding the poor condition of the Bintulu-Sungai Asap road caused by logging trucks and trailers.
Dr Elli Luhat, a former logging safety officer of the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), said half of the 100 KM-long road was still in poor condition even though the issue was first raised more than five years ago.
When he campaigned for road safety in 2002 and 2003, he was told by the truckers that the road then was not gazetted as public road and therefore they could use it.
After so many years had passed, he said he still did not know the exact status of the road now, Elli told The Borneo Post yesterday.
“If it is a public road, then the logging trucks have no right to ply along the road unless they have permits. But I must say that the status is still a mystery to me.”
“I proposed that the ACA comes in and probe because the issue on poor road condition and related issues has been dragging for too long,” he said when expressing his disappointment over the matter.
During the safety campaign in 2002 and 2003, he was tasked to collect data on the road’s condition and safety as well as organizing talks for villagers on the issue.
Elli who is now attached to another unit in STIDC, said his main concern was the safety of motorists using smaller vehicles along the road, especially along stretches near Tubau. As he hails from Rh Juman Asap in Belaga, he was personally affected and had all the more reasons to be concerned by the situation.
“The logging trucks are still the kings on the road there,” he said pointing out that the truckers pose safety hazard and personal danger to other motorists daily.
He volunteered to assist the authorities, including the ACA if they were to probe on the matter.
Elli also thanked Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing for again highlighting the issue in the media.
He said he shared Masing’s views and concerns for the people in Asap, particularly the motorists who depended heavily on the road. He supported Masing’s call upon Public Works Department (JKR) and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to address related issues and to solve the problems immediately.
The road - dubbed the Bakun highway - leads to Bakun Hydro dam site and Sungai Asap resettlement area. It was tar-sealed about ten years ago but is in very poor condition today, he added.
Elli stressed that at one time in 2003, a local newspaper described the truckers as “Killer truckers on a public road” just to amplify the seriousness of the danger they posed to the public.
The police and JPJ often conducted road blocks but problems involving them (truckers) and poor road condition still persisted until today, he added.
In 2003, he personally caught two over-loaded trucks red-handed and one of his proposed talks had to be canceled a day earlier by a directive from STIDC but he did not know the exact reason for the cancellation, he said.
On Tuesday Masing, who used to be the minister-in-charge of Sungai Asap resettlement scheme, said he wanted answers from the relevant authorities especially the JKR and JPJ over the poor condition of the road.
“I am not very happy. It appears that the timber trucks are kings of the road when they should be banned (from using the road in the first place).
“Because of the poor condition, the road is like a death trap for people traveling in smaller vehicles,” Masing who is Baleh assemblyman said when met during a break of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting.
Masing stressed that both JKR and JPJ could have played a better role by respectively repairing the road and monitoring the users. “These authorities concerned should not have let heavy vehicles use the road,” he pointed out.
He was responding to a news report in The Borneo Post on May 13 on welfare chairman of Rh Belor village security and development committee Danny Bungan saying many stretches along the road were now riddled with potholes.
Claiming to speak on behalf of the 10,000 folk from the 15 longhouses in the area located near Bakun, he said it was extremely dangerous to use the road at night especially when it rained.