By Nancy Nais
BATU LINTANG, Dec 10: A quiet and sleepy rural bazaar, Batu Lintang in Ulu Undop may see bustling commercial and agriculture activities soon.
Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden has recently proposed to build at least six new shop houses, hoping to spur and boost the above for its local villagers.
The current Batu Lintang bazaar, located some 36km from Sri Aman only has three shops, which were very dilapidated as they are over 60 years old.
These three shops have been providing daily provisions and commodities for some 4,000 local villagers from 45 longhouses, two schools, one health clinic and also their Indonesian neighbours from across the border.
According to Francis, since the border between Malaysia and Indonesia is not relatively far, only about three hours or so on foot, many Indonesians do come by to purchase food supplies.
Batu Lintang has an immigration checkpoint over at the other end of the village and the authorities have also set up a police roadblock barely 20 feet away from the shops.
“I have proposed to build at least six units of new shophouses, a tamu (market) and a service centre. The Land Custody and Development Authority (LDCA) will have to look for land and hopefully, we can put it up under the 12th Malaysia Plan,” Francis told DayakDaily during a visit to Batu Lintang recently.
DayakDaily was also made to understand that the current bazaar is located just next to the river and these shophouses face flood issues each time they get heavy rain and high tide in the area.
That is a major problem they faced.
Then there is another problem, the current shop owners were reluctant to move out and Francis said he is aware of it.
He further explained that their predicament is fully understood because these shops and their owners have been here for more than 60 years and this is where they’ve made their living, raise their families and basically, this is their home.
On the other hand, Francis said there is another option that the government is considering.
“Let the three shops remained where they are and the government can assist them to rebuild it. This includes raising the ground level to at least two feet higher to avoid water entering their shops when there is a flood.
“If the government agrees to rebuild these areas, then we might as well add a few more shophouses, instead of just having three units,” Francis said.
However, plan B will be based on an ad-hoc basis.
Francis pointed that if Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg agrees to give the allocation, then they can rebuild the shops and add a few more next to it.
As he sat with Francis and DayakDaily in front of his shop, a trader Goh Teo Soon, 65, said he is hopeful that the state government will assist them sooner or later.
Born and raised in Batu Lintang, Goh who is now the third generation owner said the flood problem is an issue and something must be done about it.
“It does not happen every day or week, but each time we dread the thoughts of moving or keeping them safe on higher places each we get a heavy downpour, and when we see the riverbank overflows.
“I believe the government can find a solution to help us rebuild this area. I know it can be done,” Goh said in an optimistic mood.
Meanwhile, Francis asserted that Batu Lintang and the surrounding areas in Sri Aman deserves to continue any development process brought in by the GPS government.
He is confident that regardless of any two plans, it will spur commercial and agriculture activities among the residents here and the surrounding areas here. – Dayakdaily