Masing: Major mistake to leave out Belaga from initial Bakun Dam devt plans

Ugak inspects KM30 of the Belaga-Menjawah Road which experienced a severe landslide.

KUCHING, Jan 7: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing believes that it was a major mistake not to include Belaga town in the plans when developing Bakun HEP Dam.

To him, now that the Bakun Dam has been acquired by the state government, the latter and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) are duty bound to upgrade the road for the people of Belaga.

He said in the initial stage when developing Bakun HEP Dam, Belaga town should be included in the plan so that a proper road could be built to link Belaga to other parts of Sarawak through a road.

The Belaga-Menjawah Road is badly damaged due to recent incessant rain.
From right: Ugak and Masing finding out more details about the road from Belaga residents.

Presently, Belaga town is linked to Bakun Dam through the Belaga-Menjawah Road, which is a road built under the Jiwa Murni programme. From there, Belaga town is linked to Bintulu and from Bintulu, to other parts of Sarawak.

Before the building of the said road, Belaga was only linked to other parts of Sarawak by river transport which means passing through multiple treacherous rapids.

“I have just been back from Belaga via Belaga-Menjawah Road. It took me one-and-a-half hours to complete the trip of 34 kilometres.

“The road is atrocious with landslides and potholes everywhere. If rain persists, the road will totally be impassable and ruined and Belaga will again be completely cut off.

“I must admit that it was a major mistake that we did not include Belaga in the initial planning of Bakun Dam. It should be included and that a standard road should be built to link (it) to Bakun.

“I believe that when Bakun was built, Belaga town was ignored. Thus, a connecting road to it was not even considered,” Masing, who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister, told DayakDaily today.

In order to provide connectivity for the people of Belaga, the government later approved the Belaga-Menjawah Road.

“We are grateful that the Belaga-Menjawah Road, built by the army five years ago, was constructed and thus connected Belaga town to the rest of Sarawak. However, upon the completion, the road was left uncared for and not maintained.

“As the result, it is now in a deplorable condition. Now that the state government owns Bakun, the state government and SEB is duty bound to make good the past errors and make good this road so the people of Belaga know that we care for them.

“It is a small price to pay for what the Belaga people have sacrificed to allow Sarawak to be lit via the Bakun Dam and the Murum HEP Dam,” said Masing.

Due to heavy usage and the lack of maintenance for the last five years, the Belaga-Menjawah Road has been badly damaged.
Another stretch of the road that experienced a landslide.

The Belaga-Menjawah Road has become too dangerous to use 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 heavily used. The road condition has been made worse by timber lorries and trucks plying the route.

Due to much wear and tear as well as the lack of maintenance, there has been many complaints about the road of being muddy, treacherous and riddled with potholes.

Among those traveling with Masing on the road were Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang and Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong. — DayakDaily