11 JUNE 2017
At around 8am on Friday 9 June 2017, an accident involving 2 motorcycles around 9 km from Lawas town on the Lawas-Damit road claimed the life of one young man, Seddie Sigar Surang. This 18-year old man was a student at Vocational College at Beaufort, Sabah.
I understand that in an attempt to avoid a pothole on the road, Seddie went onto the other side of the road and collided with another motorcycle that was going in the opposite direction. Seddie was sent to the Miri hospital from Lawas Hospital at around 4pm but he passed away at 5am the next morning. The other rider, also a young man, remains in Miri hospital.
I had brought up the issue of the appalling condition of the Lawas roads at the end of March this year, and had an immediate response from PWD that temporary road repairs would be completed by the end of the first week of April, and that major repair works were expected to begin in April also.
In the May DUN sitting, I raised up this issue again, as the ‘temporary road repairs’ had been done by filling up the holes in the road with gravel and earth, and no major repair works had been carried out. In his reply, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transport James Masing told the Dewan that for 2017, a sum of RM3.6 mil has been provided for the repair of critical stretches and that the potholes will be tar-sealed to form a paved surface.
I was informed that within hours of the tragic accident on Friday, the pothole in question had been filled up and repaired. Does this point to an attitude problem of the PWD? It shows that if they have to, they can carry out proper repairs. Why wait until someone dies before it’s done? That is only one pothole fixed. What about the rest of the potholes? The people are asking: do we have to pay one life for the repair of each pothole?
The government must realise that because of their lackadaisical attitude and lack of professionalism, one young life has been lost. The minister said that funds had been provided and PWD said major repair works would begin in April – why the delay? I am sure that the people of Lawas who are crying out for decent roads are not interested in any excuses the authorities may offer. Because of their negligence and lack of care, one family has to bear the immense pain of the losing their young son. A life full of potential has been snuffed out. I will not be surprised if they take legal action against the government.
Fifty-three years after the formation of Malaysia, Sarawakians still have to put up with deplorable infrastructure and facilities. Instead of catching up with Malaya, we remain as far behind as we were in 1963, especially in the rural areas. The attitude of the state authorities towards the people’s basic needs also leaves much to be desired. Slogans such as ‘Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan’ must ring hollow to the rural folks who still have to put up with being the poor sacrificing cousins.
Change we must this GE14.
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan / Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak