KUCHING: The 60km-road from Ba Kelalan to Long Lupeng is worse than a buffalo trail, and is in dire need of urgent attention from the relevant authorities.
It has to be improved as some 3,000 people depend on the road to go to Lawas and back, said a retiree Balang Sibal, 62.
According to him, the road was in better condition after it was upgraded under the Jiwa Murni programme three years ago, and the journey would normally take about an hour.
“Now, if we want to travel from Long Lupeng to Ba Kelalan, it will take us the entire day. On top of that, we must go in a convoy and make sure we bring along plenty of food in case we get stuck in the mud because the road is now worse than a ‘jalan kerbau’ (buffalo trail),” Balang told The Borneo Post recently.
Balang, however, said some road maintenance works were being made now, especially to fill the potholes, but they (material) would be eventually washed away during heavy rain.
“What we need is a proper road that would not take too much of our expenses, especially on the maintenance of our vehicles,” he said.
A resident of Long Teliga, Balang Dawat, 42, said traveling from his village to Lawas, which is about 90km away, would take three to five hours.
“However, that stretch of road is better as it is maintained by a logging company. But still, it’s a logging road that needs to be upgraded to cut our expenses. If we charter a 4WD vehicle, we will be charged RM450-RM500. This is too much for us to bear.”
The total distance from Ba Kelalan to Lawas via Long Luping is about 150km.
Singa @ Lion King from Long Semadoh, who has a 4WD vehicle, said in times of emergency, the charge would be at least RM700 per trip to bring a patient to Lawas Hospital.
Meanwhile, a medical assistant based in Long Semadoh Clinic, who wished to remain anonymous, said if they had to refer a patient to Lawas Hospital, it was not only risky to travel at night but also very expensive.
“Before I was transferred here, I heard from my colleagues that there had been cases where patients died along the way to Lawas Hospital.”
He said besides being slippery and muddy, the road was also subject to landslides that would only aggravate the situation. Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, Lawas MP Dato Henry Sum Agong, and Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing could not be reached for comments at press time.