Same Answer Since 1979

People boarding and disembarking from boats at Ulu Katibas. — file pic.

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KUCHING: When the assemblyman for Katibas, Datuk Ambrose Blikau Enturan , made his maiden speech in the legislature in 1979, one of the things he spoke on was for roads in Ulu Katibas.

Thirty-eight years later and in the twilight of his political career, he was told by Assistant Minister of Transport, Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, during question time last Tuesday that “currently there is no immediate plan” to implement the proposed roads, like that from Nanga Banjor to Nanga Engkuah and onwards to Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and from Nanga Musah to Ulu Musah.

Clearly upset with the answer he got, Ambrose rose not to ask a supplementary question but to tell the House that he had been getting “ the same answers on and off” since 1979.

He then said that compared to other areas, “it is a little bit awkward (not to have roads built there).”
And yesterday (Wednesday), he asked: “Why has there been no plan?”, when making his debate.

“Ulu Katibas, place ‘palak menoa’, has been in existence since Japanese time or even Brooke time maybe. But why is there no plan for it?”

Is the area not part of Sarawak, he asked, as he pleaded for the government to make a proper study for the roads.
A failure, he said, would make the people in the area feel they are being sideline by the government.

“It is seldom that I plead to people.

“I plead for the government to make thorough study of all the roads, the Katibas road and along its tributaries to be recommended to whatever authorities which I did before when I was in the ministry, to recommend it to the KKLW (Ministry of Rural and Regional Development).”

The ministry he was referring to was the state ministry of rural development where he was the assistant minister from 2006 to 2009.

Ambrose also told the House that after more than 55 years in Malaysia, Kapit Division, is still an isolated area, cut off from the rest of the state because the “infamous missing link” – a stretch of road Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised during the 2011 state election that would connect Song to Nanga Ngemah and Kanowit – would connect Kapit to Sibu.

He said the absence of a road network is pushing prices of food and other goods high as they had to be transported by outboats – boats fitted with outboard engine.

The high transportation cost was due to the price of “mixed benzene” for the outboard engines which he said was RM14 per gallon in Song and “around RM25 or RM30” at Nanga Bangkit or Nanga Engkuah. “At the very Ulu Katibas, I don‟t know. It can be RM40 per gallon.”

A bag of cement at Nanga Bangkit or Nanga Engkuah, Ambrose said, cost RM35. “These are all (a) burden to the people living in the ulu.

“Because if you use outboard engine, the cost of benzene would have (been) extra cost and then nothing is left for you to buy your own necessities (to bring) back home.

“Therefore, that Katibas road to Nanga Engkuah for the time being is very, very important.” –