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Monday, June 5, 2017

They can build LRT, but not decent roads for Sarawak



The Ba’Kelalan-Long Semadoh road in Sarawak has deteriorated to such an appalling state that here is no visible sign that there had ever been a proper road. Some parts of the road are now just muddy tracks, which even four-wheel drives have difficulty negotiating. These vehicles get bogged in the mud and have to be pulled out with ropes.
Why does the government want to build the LRT when they can’t even provide proper roads for the people?
Rural folks have the same rights and entitlements as urban folks to proper functioning basic facilities and roads are one such facility. Without proper road connectivity, people are cut off from major towns – in cases of medical emergency, how will they reach the hospital?
At last month’s sitting of the Sarawak assembly, the state minister for infrastructure development and transportation James Masing in reply to my question told the Dewan that RM1 million had been approved for the Public Works Department (JKR) to carry out the maintenance and repair works. He also said that JKR will identify the critical stretches along the road and carry out the repair works immediately.
To the disappointment of the people, until today, there has been no sign of any repair works on the road. In many of these stretches, repair work will not suffice – JKR will have to rebuild the entire stretch.
The photos here will show exactly the quality of this Jiwa Murni road built with the so-called ‘Probest’ technology. Built at some speed but without any provision for quality and durability. In last year’s June state dewan sitting, I pointed out the auditor-general’s report 2016 that raised the poor quality of the roads:
Quality of work was less than satisfactory. Road shoulders and drains were not built... There were potholes, uneven and muddy road surfaces. Road maintenance was less than satisfactory...
Besides faded road lines, there were untrimmed wild plants and grass along road shoulders... safety of the roads built were “less than satisfactory” as they were steep and winding, with “no slope protection”.
In last year’s June sitting of the Sarawak assembly, the minister defended the Jiwa Murni projects, saying that the Jiwa Murni project roads were designed to lower specifications and lower safety features, and to fit in with the required time frame and limited amount of funds available.
The Jiwa Murni roads cost an average of RM2 million per km compared to RM5 million for a JKR R1 road.
Given that the Jiwa Murni roads have not lasted very long, it would appear that the government has been penny wise but pound foolish in the decision to allow the roads to be built in this manner by the army.

Once the roads are handed over, JKR is responsible for the maintenance but we are constantly being told that there are limited or no funds for repairs. This is what state minister Michael Manyin said in December 2015 in the state assembly: “... there is no real allocation given to us from the federal government...”
The federal works minister, Fadillah Yusof is a Sarawakian, and he should act on this. Sarawak’s resources have been used to develop Malaya while our people put up with substandard facilities and infrastructure.
We never agreed to be sacrificial lambs for Malaya’s progress, and I urge the chief minister to press on with our demand for higher oil royalties and to reclaim all the revenue - that should rightfully belong to us - that is now being paid into the federal funds.

BARU BIAN is Ba’ Kelalan assemblyperson and PKR Sarawak chairperson. - Mkini

2 comments:

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