BELAGA, Dec 27: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has announced the immediate approval of RM50 million in funds to upgrade the first phase of the Belaga-Menjawah Road.
The total cost estimated by the state Public Works Department is RM86 million for the 38-kilometre road that was constructed by the army under the Jiwa Murni Programme in 2014.
He stressed that as a matter of policy, all future Jiwa Murni roads must be converted to PWD (Public Works Department or JKR) R1 standard roads after one year following completion and that the state government must be consulted with regards to such road projects in the future.
On the remaining RM36 million, Abang Johari promised it will be made available later in the long term and as a systematic bid to improve road connectivity in the district.
He made the announcement while attending a Christmas gathering here today.
The announcement was made as various parts of the road have been damaged recently by flood waters and landslides caused by incessant and heavy rain.
Abang Johari pointed out that his visit was out of the desire to view firsthand the problem of connectivity in the district and how it can be solved in the long run.
“I am very much aware of the communication problem here,” he said.
He added that Belaga District needs a systematic development plan to overcome its various issues.
Belaga used to be an isolated area, linked to other parts of Sarawak by river transport which means traveling through a number of treacherous rapids.
Development opportunities within that area has opened further following the building of Sungai Asap Resettlement Area and Bakun where a road was built to link Sungai Asap or Bakun to Bintulu.
From Menjawah of Sungai Asap, the Belaga-Menjawah Road which was built by the army under the Jiwa Murni Programme, further links Sungai Asap to Belaga, providing another alternative to the people of Belaga who otherwise can only depend on river transport.
Since the opening of the Belaga-Menjawah Road, many residents of Belaga district have switched to land transport instead of river transport which require taking an express boat to Kapit first, before boarding another express boat to Belaga.
The Belaga-Menjawah Road however has been impassible since Dec 18 after a severe landslide occurred at KM30.
The fact that this is the only road connecting Belaga residents to the outside world, it is much used. The road’s condition has been made worse by timber lorries and trucks.
Due to much wear and tear as well as the lack of maintenance, there has been many complaints about the road being muddy, dangerous and riddled with potholes. — DayakDaily