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Infrastructure Projects to Spur Devt at Sg Serupai
Masing (second right) buys fruit from a vendor near the ferry to Pulau Bruit. From left are Assistant Minister for River Transportation and Safety Liwan Lagang, Daro assemblyman Shafiee Ahmad, and Safri.
January 8th, 2017 | 09:31 AM | 1426 views
Pemanca Valerie Manyi, 74, smiled while discussing the 11-km Sungai Serupai-Kampung Seberang Road (Serupai Road) and the Kuala Tatau Bridge, which are still under construction.
Her eyes reflected wonder and determination as she looked forward to a brighter future.
“The construction of the road and bridge link to Bintulu will help us. It will make it easier for us to send our agricultural produce to Bintulu. Our land is very fertile. It is suitable for agriculture. The link provided by the road and the bridge will boost economic activities,” she told thesundaypost on Friday.
She revealed being envious of longhouse folk in Balingian and Mukah.
“The villagers of the longhouses there can sell their produce in Mukah and we can’t. Now with the construction of the Serupai Road, we can go and sell our produce to the market easily,” she explained.
There are eight longhouses in the Sungai Serupai and Kemena area, with a population of between 600 and 700. Traditionally, Sungai Serupai folk plant coconuts, but four years ago many started oil palm cultivation.
Although on a small scale now, Valerie believes that with road and bridge construction, oil palm plantations will thrive there in future.
Like Valerie, many villagers along the coastal road as well those in the interior look forward to the connectivity and opportunities the road and bridge will provide.
This is why Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing believes the road will pay for itself in future.
He was leading a delegation by road from Kuching to Bintulu, which included ministry permanent secretary Safri Zainudin, Public Works Department acting director Junaidi Shahdan and assistant director Chiew Chee Yau.
To understand what locals experience every day, the delegation took the ferry at Sungai Paloh to Pulau Bruit and then to Muara Lassa to travel by road to Daro.
The trip aimed to study whether there is a need to build bridges across Sungai Paloh and at the Lassa river mouth, which would cost an estimated RM1 billion.
Currently the usage level at both ferry points is low.
“We will look into it. Without connecting to Pulau Bruit, we’ll still have a coastal road that links Kuching to Miri. I think it would be unlikely that we will build these two bridges in recent years,” said Masing.
From Daro, the delegation travelled to Igan Ferry Terminal before going to the site for the proposed Igan Bridge.
The state government is considering a site at Kampung Kebwau, Daro across to Igan or another site 400m from the present ferry point.
RM300 million has been allocated for the project, with RM4.7 million already spent to prepare for construction at the Kampung Kebwau site.
However, villagers prefer the second site as they fear missing out on the development that will be brought about by bridge’s construction.
“We have to look into it. The problem with the second site is that after the completion of the bridge, we are expecting heavy vehicles to pass through. And that would not be very safe for the villages on the Igan side, which will be affected,” Masing explained.
Another factor to consider is that building the bridge at Kampung Kebwau could mean the building of more roads, thus opening up more opportunities for the surrounding land to be developed.
“If we choose the first option, we expect to complete the bridge by mid-2019. And if we were to choose this option, we can always build a road to connect the community near the ferry point to the new bridge site. When we make a decision, we have to look at the big picture,” said Masing.
From Igan, the delegation made its way back to Mukah, before travelling to Kuala Balingian to inspect the Serupai Road at Kuala Tatau and then heading to Bintulu.
For The Borneo Post and Utusan Borneo journalists, it was an eye-opening experience on how the projects are impacting the local communities.
While some of the areas visited during the two-day coastal road trip have been covered during previous Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) trips, the last stretch of the journey – the Serupai Road leading to Kuala Tatau, is new; while the 48km road from Kuala Tatau to Bintulu has also yet to covered by BAT.
Thus, the BAT team hopes to follow-up on the ongoing projects along the coastal road during this year’s BAT trip.
courtesy of THE BORNEO POST
by Lian Cheng, Peter Sibon and Rachel Lau
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