Rep: HDA projects back on with rainy season over

MIRI: The Highland Development Agency (HDA) is getting back on track in the rollout of multi-million projects to build and upgrade roads and other infrastructure in the Orang Ulu hinterlands, said board member Dennis Ngau.

Now that the rainy season from last November to early February this year is over, HDA is picking up the pace of delivering approved projects for the benefit of 88 longhouses and settlements, oil palm smallholdings and farms in the Orang Ulu heartland in Baram, the Telang Usan assemblyman said.

HDA was allocated RM1.5 billion in the first phase of the multi-million projects by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to fast-track development in Telang Usan and Mulu constituencies, with focus on construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

After the allocation for Telang Usan was announced, Dennis engaged grassroots leaders for their views to map out the required infrastructure and utilities projects.

Among the main focus agreed with the leaders are the construction of Long Aya-Long Pug road in Ulu Tinjar to be divided into three phases; Long Aya-Long Sobeng road (Phase 1), Long Sobeng-Long Aton road (Phase 2) and Long Aton-Long Pug (Phase 3).

Other projects include the Long Laput junction (Phase 1), Long Lama-Longan Sibong road, Long Lama-Simpang Temala road, Long Bemang road, Long Watt road, Long Tujang road, Long Buang road, Long Atip road, Long Bedian and Temala bridge, Kampung Sg Dua, Long Miri @ Daleh Long Pelutan junction and seven stand-alone water treatment plants serving eight longhouses in Apoh, Layun, middle Baram and Ulu Tinjar.

“I believe gradually and surely, we would one day have good road system all over Baram as long as we keep faith and support the leadership of Chief Minister Abang Johari and the Gabungan Parti Sarawak government,” he said.

He informed that infrastructure projects under HDA initiatives were planned to be implemented under the ‘fast-track’ system to hasten their completion, without compromising on standard and safety.

He acknowledged that tar-sealing all these rural roads within a short period of time is a huge task due to the difficult and challenging terrains and sparsely populated areas of Ulu Baram.

“Among the obstacles and challenges faced in implementation are inclement weather and demand for compensation by land owners before works start,” he said.

Challenging terrain and topography of areas require environmental impact assessment and study before road projects could be implemented.

“We want to build roads that can last without affecting the local environment, therefore, environment impact assessment, land study and many more issues have to be addressed,” he said.

There are about 1,000km of logging or dirt roads constructed by logging companies operating in Telang Usan, which have drastically slashed travelling time to the nearest town or bazaar compared to river transportation in the past.

“I can still remember very well how life was during those days when the only way to reach the nearest town Marudi was to travel on longboat along Sungai Apoh, Tutoh and Baram river. This took place maybe once in three months if a village shop owner came down to Marudi town for stock replenishment,” Dennis said. – Source: Borneo Post