Bad weather has cut off access to some 5,000 people from 20 villages in Long Lopeng, Long Semado and Ba’ Kelalan.

Continuous torrential rain has washed away certain stretches of road and destroyed bridges along the 150-km logging track linking Ba’Kelalan to Lawas.

“I have witnessed the road condition with my own eyes and yes, the stretch, between Long Lopeng, Long Semado and Ba’ Kelalan, measuring approximately 56 km, is really in a very bad state,” Ba’ Kelalan State Assemblyman, Nelson Balang Rining said yesterday.

He said that the problem was not only about muddy and slippery road surfaces.

“Many bridges have also collapsed and require immediate repair. There are easily around 10 bridges along that stretch but the biggest is at Kelalan River. Now that this bridge has collapsed, the link between Ba’ Kelalan and Lawas is now completely severed.

“Fortunately, some vehicles are stranded on the other side of the river and that enables people to continue their journeys in either direction,” he said.

However, Balang said the situation is causing a lot of inconvenience to the people in the highlands and he appealed to the government to take immediate action to address the problem.

“We are appealing to the government to do something about this because we all know that in view of the coming Christmas celebration and also long school holidays, many people will be returning to their respective villages.

“If the road condition remains like this, everybody will be inconvenienced,” he said.
Balang added that a great portion of the road was well maintained by Samling Sdn Bhd, the timber company that built the road but not the stretch from Long Lopeng to Ba’ Kelalan.

“It cannot be denied that the timber company also carried out repairs sometimes but we must also remember that it has constructed the road to fulfil its social obligations to the locals.”

Because of that, Balang said the entire population in the highlands suggested that it would be better if the road was maintained by the government.

“I have brought this matter up in the just concluded State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting and I am hoping that it will be seriously considered.

“It is our hope to see that the highlands connected by a proper road system because only then will our people will be better linked to the outside world,” the State Assemblyman added.

Eastern Times