KOTA KINABALU: For the past month, children and folks of a rural village some 200km from Sabah’s capital have been risking their lives crossing a river to go to school or run errands.
On a daily basis, students and villagers of Kampung Nangkawangan in Nabawan have either had to cross the river with makeshift rafts or use a zip line because of the lack of proper infrastructure.
The suspension bridge which the villagers once used was washed away in a massive flood last month.
Watch the video here.
Recent flooding in the area also destroyed a concrete bridge connecting nearby villages in Nabawan to the main road, leaving teachers returning from the city after the school holidays to walk 18 hours to reach schools there.
For villagers and students from Kampung Nangkawangan, there is no alternative. The suspension bridge was their only means of crossing the river.
Village spokesman Zazila Roslan, 30, told FMT that their situation was “distressing”.
She said she was told that federal deputy works minister Arthur Joseph Kurup, who is also the MP for the area, had gone down to the ground and promised to help, including providing boats while a new bridge was being constructed.
However, the villages have yet to receive the boats, forcing them to use makeshift rafts to cross the river.
When the water levels rise or when currents are strong, they use a zip line.
Smaller children are placed in a sawn-off oil barrel attached to the zip line. Videos of the children crossing the river have gone viral.
“It may feel like it’s fun to cross the river on a zip line but it is dangerous, especially for children, without the proper safety precautions,” Zazila said.
“But they are so eager to learn that they have to go through all this. Going on a raft, zip line. Where are the boats?”
She hopes the authorities do not wait for anything untoward to happen before taking action.
When contacted, Kurup said he has met Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on the matter and obtained approval for emergency funds to resolve the issue.
“The technical officers from the Implementation Coordination Unit and the district office visited the location two days ago and have started doing the necessary reports.
“In the meantime, I will discuss with the local community on what we can do to help with the transportation of schoolchildren in a safe manner for them to attend school.”