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Sabah villagers outraged by road to nowhere

 | May 25, 2012

The current government has done poorly in terms of maintaining Sabah's roads and rural infrastructure, unlike their predecessors, Usno and PBS regimes claim villagers.

PAPAR: Outraged Dusun villagers from kampungs within the vicinity of the controversial Mini Estate Sejaterah (MESEJ) project in Kg Kinolosodon are demanding to know why the government has neglected to maintain the roads in the villages but see it fit to build a new road to nowhere.

Villagers stormed the MESEJ site a few days ago despite police guarding the access road following a police report by a landowner over logging activities in the MESEJ area, which is allegedly the site for houses for the hardcore poor families.

The villagers wanted to have a look at the ‘beautiful’ new road and at the same time check the felled logs believed to have been illegally extracted from a privately owned site nearby.

The tree felling on the steep slopes of the Crocker Range in Ulu Kimanis came to light last week when a local Dusun lodged a police report on the activity.

According to those who have been travelling along the main road, trucks loaded with logs have been coming out of the area since 2010 when the five kilometre asphalt road started to be cut into the dense forest then.

The 5km road was scheduled to be completed in a year but was completed ahead of schedule.

A representative of the villagers, Catherine Anthony, 59, told a local newspaper that the road to her Kg Kelatuan was left unsealed since she was a child and is now rarely maintained.

Anthony, believed to be related to the family of landowner who lodged the police report, claimed that during all the previous state governments (Usno, Berjaya and PBS) the road that served about 1,000 Dusuns in Kelatuan was regularly maintained but not under the current regime.

She recalled that during Usno rule from 1963-1976, Jalan Beacon to Kelatuan though not damaged was regularly maintained and so it was a surprise that the government had seen fit to build a new sealed road but ignored roads to other populated areas.

“Under the Berjaya (1976-85) and then PBS government (1985-1994), the road was regularly maintained and repaired.

“Virtually no weeds were allowed to grow on the road edge in the past unlike now where we have to repair the potholes and uneven surfaces ourselves,” she said.

Musa, Pairin must explain

Another resident of nearby Kg Sumbiling, Peter Bayangod, 50, said that it was unfair that only 5km of the 13km Jalan Sumbiling-Ulu Bongawan had been sealed since the time it was built in 1963.

He said the state government during Sabah’s timber boom had used the excuse that heavy vehicles were damaging the road and thus could not maintain it.

“But now that the hills are already barren they don’t have anymore excuses for not maintaining it,” said Bayangod adding that timber companies had stopped their operation five years ago and seemed to have moved to untouched areas like Ulu Kimanis.

The villagers want Chief Minister Musa Aman and his deputy Joseph Pairin Kitingan who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development to explain why so many kampung roads have been ngelected.

They also want to know why the government has seen it fit to build an asphalt road to a place where no one lives and at best for only 33 new settlers when the project is launched.

“Why are they doing this behind our backs? Don’t Musa and Pairin care about the hundreds families and thousands people who are forced to ply bad roads since independence day … this is just outrageous,” one resident who only wanted to be known as Paul told FMT.

He also chided Pairin, the Huguan Siou of the Kadazandusuns, for not speaking out and working hard enough to alleviate the dilapidated conditions of infrastructures in most Dusun settlements.

“Year in year out, we only see others progressing and having been helped by the government, we are pained to see how our leaders Musa and Pairin kept ignoring our plights. It seems requests by our JKKKK (village committees) were never entertained,” alleged Paul.


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