KUCHING: The Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation (MIDT) will be looking into ways to solve the maintenance of roads constructed under the Jiwa Murni Programme.
Its Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said he would be calling for a meeting with the Works Department, MIDT, Defence Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Department, State Finance Secretary, Land and Survey Department and the Forestry Department, amongst others, to see how best to maintain all Jiwa Murni roads in Sarawak.
He said he had driven through the 34-km Menjawa-Bakun Road many times since it was constructed, with the last time in 2016.
“Of late, due to the lack of maintenance, wear and tear takes its toll and making it not as safe as it used to be,” said Masing, who is also Deputy Chief Minister.
Masing was responding to a recent road user who had expressed shock over the condition of the road.
“I had the opportunity to visit Bakun this weekend…attending a wedding at Belaga. From the Bintulu-Bakun junction into Belaga, it says 34km!” the road user said.
“That’s not far. Guess what? It took us 2 1/2hrs to reach Belaga! And on the way back, our car could not climb the steep hilly wet road, after a quick (rain) shower.
“Our poor nephew had to try four times, unloading us before trying again and again. It was so scary! Not until you go through this road that you realize how bad it is!!
“It’s not a JKR maintained road I learnt, it’s an army road. Why? These poor folks after all these years, I can’t believe they are still so cut off. The other alternative is by the express boat to Sibu, through the Pelagus Rapids. Both ways are dangerous.
“And the other shocking point is, they are so near to Bakun, yet Belaga’s electricity is via a huge generator!
“Finally on our way back to Bakun, we had to fill our car tank,and it’s still manually filled!”
“I had such wonderful time, met so many new wonderful people…yet my heart aches to see and experience what these people have to go through everyday,” said the road user.
Masing, said as of now, the Works Department was not willing to take over the road because certain conditions were not adhered to when the road was constructed.
Masing said once solutions on the maintenance of Jiwa Murni roads are found, action will be taken to repair the roads.
“Once solutions are found and agreed upon by all stakeholders, the damaged Jiwa Murni roads including the Menjawa-Bakun Road (will be repaired).”
Masing said Jiwa Murni Road first came into being in Sarawak about five years ago.
“The army has the machinery to build simple roads which are not up to JKR standards. However, these are roads meant only to provide connectivity.
“For normal sedan cars to use the road, it can last for five years where maintenance can come in. But when heavy lorries and trucks start to use it, it would not last,” said Masing.